U.N. Blacklist Report on Israeli Companies Postponed

GENEVA (Reuters) -
The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room, the meeting room of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in the Palace of Nations in Geneva.

A United Nations report on establishing a database of companies with business interests in Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron is set to be delayed until later this year, according to diplomats and activists.

The U.N. human rights office had been due to present its first report on the politically charged issue at a session that opens on Feb. 27, which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also due to address.

But the report is not ready and will be deferred for many months, at least until September, the sources said on Friday, adding that an announcement was expected on Monday.

“There is a need for more time, it is a very complex issue,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “You need to have a clear vision of how you list the companies, what is the exact criteria.”

The issue is sensitive because companies appearing in such a database could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up pressure on Israel. Goods produced there include fruit, vegetables and wine.

Israel assailed the U.N. Human Rights Council last March for launching the initiative, calling the database a “blacklist” and accusing the 47-member state forum of behaving “obsessively” against Israel.

The council had voted in favor of creating the database after 32 states backed a proposal by Pakistan, while 15 abstained, including Britain, France and Germany.

The United States, Israel’s main ally, had no vote but voiced strong objections. U.S. human rights ambassador Keith Harper said at the time that the resolution was “far outside” the council’s mandate and highlighted its “one-sided nature.”

The U.N. council last year called for a list of enterprises to be updated annually on the “human rights and international law violations involved in the production of settlement goods.”