Palestinian organisations have urged the United Nations to publish a much anticipated database on businesses complicit in Israel's illegal settlements, in a joint statement released this week.
According to the signatories, who include Al-Haq, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-Palestine), the database should be made public in March, at the 37th Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
At the session, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is expected to present a report under Human Rights Council resolution 31/36. The report's data, the Palestinian NGOs say, "will provide an important tool to end corporate complicity in Israel's prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)".
By way of context, the Palestinian groups note how, "for over 50 years, Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip", using "its control over Palestinian territory to unlawfully colonize Palestinian land and reap economic benefits from the abundant natural resources present for the Israeli national and settler economy".
In addition, "Israel's occupation, appropriation and annexation of Palestinian land and natural resources has also served to de-develop the Palestinian economy, fragment and isolate Palestinian communities, and relegate the OPT as a captive market".
While "countless" UN resolutions have condemned Israel's violations of international law, the Palestinian groups point out, "the occupation has become further entrenched by the assistance of Israeli and international businesses".
The NGOs acknowledge rumours that Israeli opposition to the database "and possible other pressure" has caused "the report's delay", and thus "reiterate that the database is an important tool that can be used by States and regional and international bodies to ensure the consistent and transparent implementation of policies".
The signatories "call on the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, and Member States of the UN Human Rights Council to ensure the timely publication and annual update of the database".
They also "call on all states to use the database as a tool to facilitate the implementation of measures under UNSCR 2334, including by engaging with businesses domiciled within their jurisdiction which contribute to and profit from Israel's unlawful settlement enterprise, and by banning settlement products into their domestic markets".