US trying to thwart UN blacklist of settlement-friendly firms
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Israel's envoy slams 'an expression of modern anti-Semitism' that 'reminds us of dark periods in history'

US trying to thwart UN blacklist of settlement-friendly firms

State Department says ‘counterproductive’ Human Rights Council’s measure will not facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A view of the Security Council Chamber as Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein (shown on screen), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addresses via video conference the Council's open debate on the victims of attacks and abuses on ethnic or religious grounds in the Middle East on 27 March 2015
in New York. (UN photo)
A view of the Security Council Chamber as Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein (shown on screen), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addresses via video conference the Council's open debate on the victims of attacks and abuses on ethnic or religious grounds in the Middle East on 27 March 2015 in New York. (UN photo)

The Trump administration is reportedly urging the UN’s Human Rights Council not to publish its blacklist of international companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, saying the move was “counterproductive” and would not advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Last year, the UN body unanimously voted to compile a database of all business enterprises that have enabled or profited from the growth of Israeli settlements in areas Palestinians see as part of their future state.

The proposal, put forward by the Palestinian Authority and Arab states in 2016, included a condemnation of settlements and called on companies not to do business with Israeli settlements.

According to a Tuesday report in the Washington Post, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein intends to publish the list by the end of 2017, despite opposition from the US and Israel.

“The United States has been adamantly opposed to this resolution from the start,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, according to reports. “These types of resolutions are counterproductive and do nothing to advance Israeli-Palestinian issues.”

Nauert said a joint US-Israel effort to stop funding for work related to the database had been unsuccessful.

“We have made clear our opposition regarding the creation of a database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and we have not participated and will not participate in its creation or contribute to its content,” she said.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walks with Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon as they arrive for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walks with Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon as they arrive for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hussein, a Jordanian diplomat spearheading the initiative, had already agreed to postpone publishing the list once this year, in part due to US pressure, the report said. He has reached out to member states for input before September 1.

American companies on the list include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com, Airbnb and others, The Post reported, citing those familiar with the database.

On Monday, Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon slammed the Geneva-based council, claiming the creation of a blacklist amounted to anti-Semitism.

“This shameful step is an expression of modern anti-Semitism and reminds us of dark periods in history,” Danon’s office said in a statement. “Instead of focusing on the terrible humanitarian problems plaguing the globe, the Human Rights Commissioner is seeking to harm Israel, and in doing so has become the world’s most senior BDS activist.”

The statement called on the UN and the international community to reject the “dangerous” and “anti-Israel” initiative.

In June, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, condemned the blacklist as “the latest in this long line of shameful actions” taken by the UNHRC.

“Blacklisting companies without even looking at their employment practices or their contributions to local empowerment, but rather based entirely on their location in areas of conflict is contrary to the laws of international trade and to any reasonable definition of human rights,” she said in a speech in Geneva. “It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the anti-Semitic BDS movement. It must be rejected.”

Haley went on to warn at the time that the US could withdraw from the 47-member body unless it reformed, ending its built-in procedural mechanism to condemn Israel, and banning notorious human rights violators from serving on the council.

Since 2007, Israel has been the only country whose alleged human rights abuses are regularly discussed in the framework of a single permanent item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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