UN blacklists 112 companies with ties to Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements

13 Feb

A digger made by JCB is used by Israeli occupation authorities to destroy a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in 2011. The British firm is in the UN database, released on 12 February of companies that work in Israel’s settlements.[Mahfouz Abu Turk APA]

By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, 13 February 2020

UN publishes list of firms profiting from Israeli war crimes

The United Nations on Wednesday finally released its database of companies involved in Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The release of the database comes after years of unexplained delays, which prompted human rights organizations to express concern that the UN was succumbing to political pressure to suppress the information.

Israel’s colonial settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law and their construction is a war crime that is being investigated by the International Criminal Court.

The report released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights lists 112 companies involved in certain activities in the settlements, including the supply of equipment and materials for construction or home demolitions, surveillance and security, transport and maintenance, pollution and dumping of waste, and use of natural resources including water and land.

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, the steering group for the Palestinian-led BDS campaign, welcomed the release of the database, which came “despite bullying by [President Donald] Trump and Israel’s far-right government.”

It added that “these companies must be held to account, including through strategic boycotts and divestment campaigns.”

Israel reacted to the publication of the list with rage.

Gilad Erdan, the country’s minister of strategic affairs, claimed that it “proves once again the UN’s consistent anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred.”

Unable to defend its violations of international law, Israel now routinely smears even the mildest critics as anti-Semites.

Well-known brands

The database includes Israeli firms and well-known international brands such as travel companies Airbnb, Booking.com and TripAdvisor, construction equipment maker JCB, real estate company Re/Max, train maker Alstom, US food giant General Mills and electronics firm Motorola.

General Mills owns dozens of familiar supermarket brands including Häagen-Dazs, Yoplait and Cheerios.

Also on the list is Mayer’s Cars and Trucks, the Israeli agent for Sweden-based equipment maker Volvo. But Volvo itself is not listed.

Volvo provides equipment for destroying Palestinian property, trucks to transport waste to illegal dumps and armored buses for settlements.

Major omissions

Also notably absent from the list is Caterpillar, long a target of campaigners for selling construction equipment used by Israel to build settlements and destroy Palestinian homes.

Its Israeli agent, Israel Tractors and Equipment, also does not appear on the list despite Caterpillar’s documented role in settlement expansion and providing the Israeli army with bulldozers that are used as weapons.

The BDS National Committee pointed to other major omissions: G4S, Hewlett-Packard companies, Hyundai Heavy Industries, HeidelbergCement, Cemex and Israeli arms maker Elbit Systems.

Israeli firms that are on the UN list include major banks, which finance the theft of Palestinian land, and Israel’s national water company Mekorot, which pillages Palestinian water.

Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal, which runs stores and supply chains in settlements, is also on the list.

That is notable because several European Union embassies have run joint promotions of their countries’ products with the firm, despite Shufersal being a settlement profiteer. The EU claims to oppose Israeli settlements.

Israeli pressure

The UN database was originally supposed to be released three years ago.

Israel and the US have been determined to stop its publication, fearing it could provide a major boost to efforts to hold Israel accountable and force companies to stop helping Israel violate Palestinian rights.

Israel planned “to do everything it can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Danny Danon, the country’s ambassador to the UN, said in 2017.

The database is clearly not comprehensive and is limited only to businesses involved in activities specified by the UN Human Rights Council mandate.

As its authors acknowledge, the “database does not cover all business activity related to settlements, and does not extend to wider business activity in the occupied Palestinian territory that may raise human rights concerns.”

An example of the types of activities the database does not cover is investing in firms involved in Israeli crimes.

France-based insurer Axa, for example, is under pressure from activists to divest from Israeli weapons makers and banks that finance settlements.

Axa is not included in the UN database.

Nevertheless, campaigners see the publication of the database as an important first step and a tool to push for accountability.

Human Rights Watch, one of the organizations that had criticized the UN for repeatedly delaying publication, welcomed the release of the database.

“The long-awaited release of the UN settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes,” Bruno Stagno, the group’s executive director for advocacy, said.

“The database marks critical progress in the global effort to ensure businesses end complicity in rights abuse and respect international law.”

The UN is expected to update the list annually.

 

Logos of Airbnb are seen with a house mock-up onto it. [Metin Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

Middle East Monitor, 13 February 2020

A blacklist report was released today by the human rights office of the UN containing names of 112 companies with ties to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Of the 112 companies, which include Bezeq telecommunications, Teva Pharmaceutical industries and soft drink company Coca Cola, 94 are based in Israel, with 18 in six other countries. The Jerusalem Post reported that companies featured on the blacklist were not notified of its imminent release.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet said: “While the settlements as such are regarded as illegal under international law, this report does not provide a legal characterisation of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them.”

However, featured company, Hot Telecommunications Systems Ltd, in a letter from CEO Tal Granot-Goldstein to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, called on “the Israeli government and the Foreign Ministry intervene to prevent the publication of this list. Handling this matter is a national interest of the utmost importance”.

Citing the belief that “the inclusion of Israeli companies in the UN Human Rights Council’s blacklist might expose those companies to legal procedures, prompting international corporations to pull out of their investments in Israel”.

The long-awaited report was expected to be published in 2019 but was delayed over similar concerns, namely that companies appearing in the document could be subject to boycotts or divestment as a result of international pressure to prohibit trade with illegal settlements.

The UN human rights council approved a resolution to gather a blacklist of international companies operating in the illegal settlements in 2016 and in January 2018 identified 206 companies operating the West Bank.

The 2018 UN report stated the “the violations of [Palestinian] human rights associated with [Israeli] settlements are pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life.”

“Owing to settlement development and infrastructure, Palestinians suffer from restrictions on freedom of religion, movement and education; their rights to land and water; access to livelihoods and their right to an adequate standard of living; their rights to family life; and many other fundamental human rights,” the report added.

The release of the blacklist comes weeks after US President Donald Trump announced his plan for peace in the middle east, a move which was widely rejected by regional leaders.

Listed companies with business ties to illegal West Bank settlements 

Afikim Public Transportation Ltd.
Airbnb Inc.
American Israeli Gas Corporation Ltd.
Amir Marketing and Investments in Agriculture Ltd.
Amos Hadar Properties and Investments Ltd.
Angel Bakeries
Archivists Ltd.
Ariel Properties Group
Ashtrom Industries Ltd.
Ashtrom Properties Ltd.
Avgol Industries 1953 Ltd.
Bank Hapoalim B.M.
Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.
Bank of Jerusalem Ltd.
Beit Haarchiv Ltd.
Bezeq, the Israel Telecommunication
Corp Ltd.
Booking.com B.V.
C Mer Industries Ltd.
Café Café Israel Ltd.
Caliber 3
Cellcom Israel Ltd.
Cherriessa Ltd.
Chish Nofei Israel Ltd.
Citadis Israel Ltd.
Comasco Ltd.
Darban Investments Ltd.
Delek Group Ltd.
Delta Israel
Dor Alon Energy in Israel 1988 Ltd.
Egis Rail
Egged, Israel Transportation Cooperative Society Ltd.
Energix Renewable Energies Ltd.
EPR Systems Ltd.
Extal Ltd.
Expedia Group Inc.
Field Produce Ltd.
Field Produce Marketing Ltd.
First International Bank of Israel Ltd.
Galshan Shvakim Ltd.
General Mills Israel Ltd.
Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers Cooperative Ltd.
Hot Mobile Ltd.
Hot Telecommunications Systems Ltd.
Industrial Buildings Corporation Ltd.
Israel Discount Bank Ltd.
Israel Railways Corporation Ltd.
Italek Ltd.
JC Bamford Excavators Ltd.
Jerusalem Economy Ltd.
Kavim Public Transportation Ltd.
Lipski Installation and Sanitation Ltd.
Matrix IT Ltd.
Mayer Davidov Garages Ltd.
Mekorot Water Company Ltd.
Mercantile Discount Bank Ltd.
Merkavim Transportation Technologies Ltd.
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.
Modi’in Ezrachi Group Ltd.
Mordechai Aviv Taasiot Beniyah 1973 Ltd.
Motorola Solutions Israel Ltd.
Municipal Bank Ltd.
Naaman Group Ltd.
Nof Yam Security Ltd.
Ofertex Industries 1997 Ltd.
Opodo Ltd.
Bank Otsar Ha-Hayal Ltd.  
Partner Communications Company Ltd.
Paz Oil Company Ltd.
Pelegas Ltd.
Pelephone Communications Ltd.
Proffimat S.R. Ltd.
Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd.
Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing Communication Ltd.
Re/Max Israel
Shalgal Food Ltd.
Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd.
Shufersal Ltd.
Sonol Israel Ltd.
Superbus Ltd.
Tahal Group International B.V.

TripAdvisor Inc.
Twitoplast Ltd.
Unikowsky Maoz Ltd.
YES
Zakai Agricultural Know-how and inputs Ltd.
ZF Development and Construction
ZMH Hammermand Ltd.
Zorganika Ltd.
Zriha Hlavin Industries Ltd.
Alon Blue Square Israel Ltd.
Alstom S.A.
Altice Europe N.V.
Amnon Mesilot Ltd.
Ashtrom Group Ltd.
Booking Holdings Inc.
Brand Industries Ltd.
Delta Galil Industries Ltd.
eDreams ODIGEO S.A.
Egis S.A.
Electra Ltd.
Export Investment Company Ltd.
General Mills Inc.
Hadar Group
Hamat Group Ltd.
Indorama Ventures P.C.L.
Kardan N.V.
Mayer’s Cars and Trucks Co. Ltd.
Motorola Solutions Inc.
Natoon Group
Villar International Ltd.
Greenkote P.L.C.

 

Ed – here is a link to a report by Middle East Eye (12 February 20202) on the UN blacklist:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/un-rights-council-release-blacklist-companies-operating-illegal-israeli-settlements

Here is a link to a Haaretz report (12 February 2020):

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-un-releases-blacklist-of-112-companies-with-ties-to-israeli-west-bank-settlements-1.8527502?fbclid=IwAR1WuT8rWdUA8fQOXOe2QB_MUOnzpQG1pUEEUkeW1RswlroOcjUJ6PUfzpc

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