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Palestinians, rights groups urge UN to name companies complicit in settlements

Palestinians demonstrate against the construction of illegal settlements on 15 September 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which represents the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, has welcomed the publication of a UN report on companies complicit in Israeli settlements, but urged the names of those companies to be made public.

Yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report identifying 206 companies – Israeli and international – that are complicit in Israel’s settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

The report described “the violations of [Palestinian] human rights associated with the [Israeli] settlements” as “pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life”.

“Owing to settlement development and infrastructure, Palestinians suffer from restrictions on freedom of religion, movement and education; their rights to land and water; access to livelihoods and their right to an adequate standard of living; their rights to family life; and many other fundamental human rights.”

Read: Israeli MPs to submit new bill to annex West Bank settlements

The Palestinian BNC said that “Palestinian civil society welcomes the UN’s latest rebuke of Israel’s egregious violations of Palestinian human rights, and insistence that businesses have an obligation to avoid complicity in these violations.”

However, the statement continued, it was “unfortunate that intense bullying by Israel and the Trump administration has prevented the UN to date from releasing the actual names of the companies it has deemed complicit in Israel’s grave violations of international law.”

“Without publicly naming names, meaningful accountability is more difficult to attain,” it continued.

Read: Israel approves $11m for illegal settlements in occupied West Bank

The statement went on to describe how, “with the Trump administration’s unconditional support, Israel is continuing its attempts to intimidate UN officials, heads of states, corporations and cultural figures”, adding: “But people grow tired of bullies, and bullies are eventually stopped and held accountable by persistent, patient, collective efforts.”

The BNC noted how “effective BDS campaigning has in fact compelled major corporations, like Veolia and Orange, to end their collusion in Israel’s crimes.”

#LandGrab

“While this UN report does not go far enough”, the statement concluded, “it is a positive step and confirms the necessity of our grassroots work”.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch also issued a cautious welcome to the latest update.

“Today’s report shows progress in identifying and communicating with companies that contribute to serious abuses in Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at the group.

“The UN and member states should allocate the resources needed to complete the work of advising companies of their human rights responsibilities and publish the names of those who continue to operate in settlements.”

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