32 nations vote in favor; 15 abstain; none oppose

UN approves blacklist of companies profiting from settlements

PM blasts ‘anti-Israel circus,’ and Livni blames him, as resolution passes in Human Rights Council, after fruitless US, EU bid to soften language

The Human Rights Council in Geneva (UN/Jean-Marc Ferré)
The Human Rights Council in Geneva (UN/Jean-Marc Ferré)

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday voted in favor of creating a “blacklist” of companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a motion that passed with no countries voting against.

The resolution required UN human rights officials to produce a database of “all business enterprises” that have enabled or profited from the growth of Israeli settlements, Haaretz reported.

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

Its most contested clause was that calling for the formation of the database. While European Union nations opposed the creation of the list, they did not vote against the resolution, electing merely to abstain. It passed with 32 nations voting in favor and 15 abstentions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the outcome of the vote Thursday evening, saying the international body “has turned into an anti-Israel circus, which attacks the only democracy in the Middle East and ignores the blatant violations of Iran, Syria and North Korea.”

The prime minister accused the council of ignoring more urgent issues such as terrorism in order to rebuke the Jewish state.

“The absurd thing is that instead of dealing with Palestinian terrorist attacks and Islamic State attacks in Europe, [the Human Rights Council] decides to condemn Israel. Israel calls upon responsible governments not to respect the decisions of the council which denigrate Israel,” he said.

The vote was delayed several times as American and European officials sought to soften its wording. US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to prevent the blacklist clause, but was rebuffed.

Responding to the vote, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that, “When the UN marks Jewish businesses so that they can be boycotted it reminds us of dark times in history.”

In a statement released Thursday, Danon said: “The Human Rights Council has turned into an accomplice of the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement and its conduct is both anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaking before to an emergency session of the Security Council, March 3, 2016. (Courtesy)
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaking before to an emergency session of the Security Council, March 3, 2016. (Courtesy)

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said the vote “provides further proof of this body’s sick obsession with Israel…as Islamist terrorism runs wild in the world, and as hundreds of thousands are killed in the Syrian war and in terror attacks throughout the Middle East, the ‘human rights council’ once again proves that it is a cynical, hypocritical, detached and irresponsible body.”

But former foreign minister Tzipi Livni blamed Netanyahu for the outcome of the vote, calling “the fact that the states closest to Israel didn’t oppose the decision… a dramatic diplomatic failure.”

She said that the fact that the council passed an anti-Israel motion isn’t remarkable, but the lack of support for Israel from its allies was noteworthy.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told a group of foreign diplomats on Tuesday that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was a danger not only to Israel but to the entire free world.

Speaking at the annual Ambassadors’ Forum at Bar-Ilan University on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Erdan told some 50 senior diplomats from various countries, including Egypt, Turkey and South Africa, that the ultimate goal of BDS was nothing less than to “destroy Israel.”

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan attends a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs committee, February 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan attends a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs committee, February 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)


Second, the boycott campaign “threatens the most fundamental values of democracies,” such as free speech,” Erdan said. He said the BDS activists seek to stifle open discussion, “try to force you to accept their views, and threaten you if you don’t.” They bully companies, harass consumers and blacklist artists.

If democracies allow proponents of BDS to take advantage of the freedom of expression to intimidate opponents and silence debate, similar methods will soon be used against other targets as well, he said. “What starts with Israel will not end with Israel… BDS tactics will quickly spread to other groups.”

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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