UN Report Identify 206 Companies Operating in Illegal Israeli Settlements

Israel escalated settlement activities in the West Bank disregarding displacement of Palestinians and international law. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

The United Nations human rights office said Wednesday it had identified 206 companies doing business linked to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and it urged them to avoid any complicity in “pervasive” violations against Palestinians.

“Businesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements,” the U.N. report said.

“In doing so, they are contributing to Israel’s confiscation of land, facilitate the transfer of its population into the Occupied Palestinian Territory and are involved in the exploitation of Palestine’s natural resources.”

The majority of the companies, 143, are located in Israel or the Jewish-only settlements, followed by 22 in the United States, the report added. The remainder are based in 19 other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain.

Most countries in the world view the Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal and as a major obstacle in the way of a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.

The report said that the work in producing the U.N. database “does not purport to constitute a judicial process of any kind”. The United Nations office did not name the companies and said that the database has not been completed yet.

The office’s mandate was to identify businesses involved in the construction of settlements, surveillance, services including transport, and banking and financial operations such as loans for housing.

Violations associated with the settlements are “pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life,” the report said. It cited restrictions on freedom of religion, movement and education and lack of access to land, water and jobs.

Therefore businesses operating in the occupied territories have a corporate responsibility to carry out due diligence and consider “whether it is possible to engage in such an environment in a manner that respects human rights”, it said.

Israel used its attack to criticize the report saying the report was “fundamentally illegitimate” and proves the “the bias to try to delegitimize Israel” by the United Nations, according to Israeli envoy to the U.N. Aviva Raz Shechter.

Israel fears that such list could be used by the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a nonviolent movement inspired by the South African anti-apartheid struggle, which seeks to apply international pressure until Israel ends the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights.

The publication of the list is part of a resolution approved by the U.N. in March 2016 that seeks to apply international pressure against the colonization of Palestinian lands by Israel.

The U.N. Security Council also passed a resolution in December 2016 calling on Israel to seize settlement expansion in the West Bank, a rare victory for the Palestinians at the council made possible by the fact that the U.S. abstained from voting instead of its traditional veto of any anti-Israel resolutions.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem who tend to be ultra-conservative Jewish people that reject the idea of a Palestinian people or state and believe that the West Bank should be part of the Israeli state.

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