UN publishes list of firms supporting Israeli settlement expansion
Palestinians have lauded a recent move by the United Nations human rights office over publishing the names of firms linked to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
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The office said in a statement on Wednesday that it had named 112 business entities, including 94 based in Israel and 18 others in six different countries. It said it had reasonable grounds to conclude that the firms have ties with Israeli settlements.
"I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday.
The office said, "While the settlements as such are regarded as illegal under international law, this report does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them."
The move was hailed by the Palestinian foreign minister, who described it as a victory.
"The publication of the list of companies and parties operating in settlements is a victory for international law," Riyad al-Maliki's office said in a statement.
The minister also called on UN member states and the UN Human Rights council to "issue recommendations and instructions to these companies to end their work immediately with the settlements."
The newly released report drew condemnation from Tel Aviv, with Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz saying in a statement, "The announcement by the UN Human Rights Office of the publication of a 'blacklist' of businesses is shameful capitulation to pressure from countries and organizations that are interested in hurting Israel."
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.