UN publishes list of 112 companies operating in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
In February 2020, the UN published a list of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). The list's publication comes after years of delay following a UN Human Rights Council mandate for the creation of such a database back in 2016 (see our previous coverage here), and concerted efforts from civil society groups to encourage the listing of these companies publicly.
The list of 112 companies contained within the Human Rights council report refers to a wide range of sectors including construction, food, banks, retail and transport. Most were headquartered in Israel with 18 headquartered internationally. All of the companies have been identified as engaging in business activity, as a parent company of a subsidiary engaged in business activity, or as a company that has granted a license/ franchise to a company engaged in business activity in the OPTs.
Some companies on the list, such as AirBnb and JCB, have already faced international criticism for operating in Palestine. Amnesty International has also previously reported on the activities of travel companies in Palestine.
Although the UN report makes clear that it does not carry legal weight, the list has been both welcomed and condemned for providing the impetus for organised civil society boycotts of the named companies. The Palestine government, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, for example, have both welcomed the report, whilst Israeli ministers have criticised the publication as a result of "pressure from countries and organisations that are interested in hurting Israel".
Throughout the compilation process, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights engaged with all named companies. Where companies disputed that they met the criteria for inclusion, this was evaluated and the company was removed if it was found they were no longer engaged in the business activity.
Al-Haq and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) issued a statement welcoming the publication of the database and highlighting its significance in ensuring transparency and promoting accountability for business activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have also welcomed the database.