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US pans move to blacklist companies working with settlements

State Department condemns Human Rights Council’s ‘bias’ against Israel in resolution that is ‘far outside their scope of authority’

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (CC BY-US Mission Geneva/Flickr/File)
The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (CC BY-US Mission Geneva/Flickr/File)

The US on Wednesday condemned the UN Human Rights Council’s decision last week to effectively create a blacklist of companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, saying it “unequivocally opposes” the move and accusing the council of bias against Israel.

The resolution, which passed with no countries voting against, required UN human rights officials to produce a database of “all business enterprises” that have enabled or profited from the growth of Israeli settlements.

It also included a condemnation of settlements and called on companies not to do business with Israeli settlements.

US State Department Spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that US officials, who had attempted to remove the database clause prior to the vote, “unequivocally oppose the very existence of that agenda item, and therefore, any resolutions at the HRC that come from it.”

Kirby said Washington was staunchly opposed to the council’s “bias against Israel,” accusing it of singling out the Jewish state in “an unbalanced manner.”

US State Department spokesman John Kirby delivering the department's daily press briefing, January 19, 2016. (screen capture/US State Department website)
US State Department spokesman John Kirby delivering the department’s daily press briefing, January 19, 2016. (screen capture/US State Department website)

While he stressed that the US was strongly opposed to settlement activities, he warned that the creation of such a list was “an unprecedented step by the council” which Washington believed to be “far outside their scope of authority.”

While European Union nations also 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, 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.

 

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.

 

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