No meeting planned with Netanyahu, Palestine policy 'firm'

Pompeo United States rejects the UN database of Israeli settlement companies | News

UN releases long-delayed list of companies operating in Israel's West Bank settlements

Despite objections by the United States in 2016, the UNHRC instructed the UN Human Rights Office to create an anti-Semitic "database" of firms linked to or in any way "supportive" of Jewish communities in post-1967 territories, which are considered illegal by many in the global community.

It said it had identified 112 business entities which it has reasonable grounds to conclude have ties with Israeli settlements - 94 domiciled in Israel and 18 in six other countries including the United States, Britain and France.

PLO secretary general Saeb Erekat said: "While this list does not include all the companies profiting from Israel's illegal colonial-settlement enterprise in occupied Palestine, it's a crucial first step to restore hope in multilateralism and worldwide law".

Airbnb declined comment. The San Francisco company said in November 2018 that it was removing its listings in West Bank settlements.

Omar Awadallah, the head of public administration for United Nations human rights organisations at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, talks to Al Jazeera. Katz said the measure was enacted to protect companies operating in Israel.

In its initial reaction to the plan, Saudi Arabia expressed its longtime support for the "brotherly Palestinian people", and said it backed "all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian cause".

The two countries' interest in containing Iran have increasingly converged with both viewing Tehran as a main threat, but Saudi Arabia maintains that any relations hinge on Israel's withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war, territory Palestinians seek for a future state.

The report admits that "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", going on to say that it also does not cover "non-business enterprises".

Pompeo said the list supports a pro-Palestine boycott movement known as BDS - boycott, divestment and sanction - and called on all United Nations member states to reject the effort.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the report as the work of a "biased and uninfluential body".

He said companies would be pursued through "international legal institutions and in courts in their countries for taking part in human rights violations in Palestine".

"I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious", United Nations rights chief Michelle Bachelet said.

"The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database", Pompeo said in a statement.

The release of the database of businesses contributing to illegal Israeli settlements is a major breakthrough in holding businesses accountable for their role in rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said today.

Publishing the names of the companies is a crucial first step in rejecting attempts to legalize the settlements, according to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

The report's authors called on the council to set up "a group of independent experts" to update the database each year.

Israel has never been a member of the council, which comprises 47 governments, including those of Libya, Venezuela, Eritrea, Nigeria, Angola and Somalia, in addition to Bahrain, Sudan, Qatar, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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