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US, Israel threaten to cut UN funding once again

Image of the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in session [file photo]
United Nations Human Rights Council in session [File photo]

Israel and the US have threatened to cut funding to the UN Human Rights Council if it goes ahead with its plan to publish a list of companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, according to the Times of Israel.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan yesterday condemned the plan, alleging that it would equate to a boycott of Tel Aviv.

This is the time to make it clear to the UN that if a blacklist is published of companies operating in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank], Israel will completely cease its financing to the UN and significantly reduce the entry of its representatives to Israel

Erdan wrote in a series of tweets, using the Zionist name for the West Bank.

“Every group that participates in promoting the boycott against Israeli citizens needs to know that there’s a price for this,” he added.

Just hours before, American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had also reportedly termed the research a “blacklist” and condemned the alleged “anti-Israel bias” of the UN, warning: “If you publish the list against settlements we will harm your funding.”

American companies on the list include TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Priceline.com.

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Last year, the UN unanimously voted to compile a list of firms that do business in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. The initiative was proposed by the Palestinian Authority and the other Arab states. UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussain reportedly intends to publish the database by the end of this year, despite opposition from the US and Israel.

The statements come as the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ends his first official visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, during which he strongly criticised Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the West Bank, calling it a “major obstacle” towards the implementation of a two-state solution. He also called on Israel to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, describing the situation as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that I’ve seen”.

Read: Protests as UN Chief tours Gaza

However on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Guterres of not being impartial by allegedly allowing “hate speech to flourish” at UN agencies. The families of Israeli settlers also wrote a letter to the secretary-general calling on him to stop funding Palestinian humanitarian NGOs, claiming that they promote terrorism. Other Israeli ministers have also criticised UN policies towards the Zionist state, accusing the international body of siding with the Palestinians. Guterres has rejected all accusations.

Israel has pledged to cut funding to the UN on numerous occasions since the end of last year, currently estimated to amount to some $10.7 million, often in protest of unfavourable UN resolutions. If it keeps its pledge and fails to pay its bills for more than two years, Israel could lose its voting rights at the UN General Assembly, despite its expressed desire to become a member of the Security Council by 2019.

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