The UN Human Rights Office said Friday that it had removed 15 companies from its so-called blacklist of firms that do business in Israeli settlements.
However, 122 firms still remain, the UN office’s spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said during a press briefing.
The update followed a long-awaited review, which Shamdasani said had been only partial — the office had only been able to check the original list of 112 companies that it issued in 2020 and did not look at any potential new companies. She did not elaborate as to why that was.
The vast majority of the firms on the updated list — 105 — were still based in Israel, though 17 international businesses, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Motorola, are also included.
US-based General Mills food processing company and Indorama Ventures in Thailand were the only international firms removed from the list. Notably, 15 Israeli firms stopped doing business in the settlements
In 2018, Airbnb announced that it was removing all of its listings in the settlements but went on to reverse the stance a year later after property owners filed discrimination lawsuits against the firm.
In 2020, Booking.com added warnings to West Bank listings telling customers that they may be located in “conflict-affected” areas while stopping short of removing the listings entirely.
Israel’s Mission to the UN in Geneva blasted the update, saying that the UN Human Rights Office and the Human Rights Council were “further entrenching themselves as a partial actor in the region, serving those pursuing a discriminatory agenda against Israel.
For its part, Human Rights Watch said it was disappointing that the UN Human Rights Office had failed to undertake the work to identify additional businesses and urged for further review.
The Biden administration had been pressuring the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights not to update the list, arguing that it “only serves to reinforce an anti-Israeli bias,”
State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said last year that the list “poses a genuine threat to companies doing business or considering business operations in the region.”