The United Nations has sent a letter to 150 companies, informing them of their potential inclusion in a database of companies doing business in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
According to the report Wednesday in Haaretz, which cited unnamed "senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats", the companies contacted by the UN's Human Rights Commissioner include around 30 from the US, while around half are Israeli.
The letters "request that these firms send the commission clarifications about their business activities in settlements".
Israeli officials told the paper that "a number of companies" who received the letters reportedly responded "by saying they do not intend to renew contracts or sign new ones in Israel".
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"These companies just can't make the distinction between Israel and the settlements and are ending their operations all together", an Israeli official said. "Foreign companies will not invest in something that reeks of political problems – this could snowball".
Haaretz reported that "an inter-ministerial committee comprising the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Strategic Affairs, Justice and Economy is still working to try to prevent the list's publication", which could be made public by the end of the year.
Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, "warmly" welcomed what he described as the UN's "first concrete, practical step to secure accountability for ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights". Barghouti said activists hope the full list will be published soon.
"If implemented properly", he added, "this UN database of companies that are complicit in some of Israel's human rights violations may augur the beginning of the end of Israel's criminal impunity".