Haley: UN list of firms linked to settlements part of ‘anti-Israeli obsession’

American envoy calls report on 206 companies ‘a waste of time and resources,’ promises further efforts to reform Human Rights Council

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley attends a Security Council meeting on Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, January 18, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD)
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley attends a Security Council meeting on Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, January 18, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD)

UNITED NATIONS — US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday slammed a UN report on 206 companies with ties to Israeli settlements as “a waste of time and resources” that showed an “anti-Israeli obsession.”

The office of the UN high commissioner for human rights released the report that did not name the companies but could pave the way to a “blacklist” of businesses that Israeli officials fear would be targeted for an international boycott.

“This whole issue is outside the bounds of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office’s mandate and is a waste of time and resources,” Haley said in a statement.

The report was in response to a resolution adopted in 2016 by the UN Human Rights Council that called for the creation of database of all companies doing business with the Israeli settlements, which the United Nations considers illegal under international law.

“While we note that they wisely refrained from listing individual companies, the fact that the report was issued at all is yet another reminder of the Council’s anti-Israel obsession,” said Haley.

The report noted that only 64 of the companies have been contacted about the allegations so far, necessitating a delay in the publication of their names. The report blamed “limited resources” for the delay and said the roster would eventually be published.

“The United States will continue to aggressively push back against the anti-Israel bias, and advance badly needed reforms of the Council,” Haley added.

Of the 206 companies under review, 143 are based in Israel (including in settlements), 22 in the United States, seven in Germany, five in the Netherlands and four in France.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon slammed the publication of the interim report and said he would continue to fight to have the list trashed.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon addresses the UN General Assembly during a debate on a resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, December 21, 2017. (YouTube screen capture)

“On the day that the UN is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the UNHRC has chosen to publicize this information about the number of companies operating in Israel,” Danon said in a statement. “This is a shameful act which will serve as a stain on the UNHRC forever. We will continue to act with our allies and use all the means at our disposal to stop the publication of this disgraceful blacklist.”

The Israel-based NGO Monitor watchdog group, which has lobbied against the database, said the newest delay pointed to “significant due process concerns” in the creation of the list.

An official speaking on condition of anonymity said earlier that the list includes Israeli banks, supermarkets, restaurant chains, bus lines and security firms, as well as international giants that provide equipment or services used to build or maintain settlements.

The only company to confirm receiving a warning letter of inclusion on the list has been Bezeq, Israel’s largest telephone company. Others reportedly on the list include Motorola, HP and Israel Aerospace Industries.

The report released this week includes initial findings excoriating the businesses operating in areas considered occupied by the international community and dismissed as insufficient the Israeli argument that they provide jobs for the local Palestinian population.

“This argument does not recognize that the presence of the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which is unlawful, serves to depress the Palestinian economy and to reduce opportunities for Palestinian businesses to thrive,” the report stated.

“The violations of human rights associated with the settlements are pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life,” it said, citing restrictions on movement, freedom of religion, education and land ownership faced by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. “Businesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements.”

The report also accuses Israel of encouraging business to operate in settlements by providing financial incentives.

“Business enterprises may need to consider whether it is possible to engage in such an environment in a manner that respects human rights,” it said.

Joshua Davidovich, Raphael Ahren and AP contributed to this report.

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