One hundred thirty Israeli companies and 60 international firms will be included in a blacklist that is being prepared by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights unless they immediately stop doing business in Yehudah and Shomron. An official list of companies that members of the international community should boycott will be released in December, a report in Yediot Acharonot on Thursday said.
The blacklist is a “pet project” of the chairperson of the Commission – Jordanian Prince Zayed bin-Riad al-Hussein. In a letter sent to the Israeli companies, the Committee accuses them of violating United Nations resolutions and “violating international law.” Israeli government officials quoted in the report said that they believed the Commission got most of its information about the activities of Israeli companies from Israeli leftist groups.
Among the companies on the list are many well-established and well-known firms in a wide variety of industries, including Angel Bakeries, real estate firms Arison Investments, Shikun uBinui, Africa Israel, and Ashdar, construction firm Clal, cell service firms Cellcom, Partner, and Motorola, Nesher Cement Works, supermarket chains Supersol and Rami Levy, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Sonol gas stations, the Café Café restaurant chain, the Egged bus company, water company Mekorot and others. All have reportedly received a letter from the Committee warning them that they are to be included in the blacklist.
A report in the Washington Post said that several American firms, including AirBnB, Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, and others have received letters as well. That report said that the U.S. and Israel were working behind the scenes to defuse the issue. It should be noted that inclusion on the list has no legal ramifications.
The feeling in the business community is that those who were inclined not to do business with Israeli companies doing business in Yehudah and Shomron would continue not to do so, while those that already did would continue to do so, the Yediot report said. With that, the concern is that the release of the list will give more encouragement to the efforts of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activists, and perhaps frighten off investors. Israeli companies are thus preparing lawsuits of their own, the report said, in which they will sue the Committee in international forums and foreign courts for besmirching their name and causing them material losses. In the U.S., the report said, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee has been lobbying government officials to push forward legislation that would penalize companies that participate in an organized boycott of Israel.
Among the Israeli companies to receive a letter – and the only one to respond publicly to it so far – is Bezeq. The Commission blacklist threat was posted in a social media message posted by Bezeq CEO Stella Handler several weeks ago. Handler later removed the post, the newspaper said, at the request of the Foreign Ministry. In her post, Handler said she had been asked that Bezeq refrain from “supplying services and infrastructure to settlements,” as they allow for “the continued maintenance and existence of the occupation,” which are “illegal under international law.”
Handler wrote that Bezeq would not submit to such “blackmail. Bezeq respects the rights of all its customers, without discrimination. We provide services to all Israelis, without differentiating between religion, race, or gender, and respect their rights to live wherever they want in Israel – be it Raanana, eastern Jerusalem, Ariel, Sakhnin or Maale Adumim. We invest and expend efforts in order to spread our infrastructure throughout the country, and seek to provide all Israelis with critical services. This is our obligation as an infrastructure company, and we do this with great pride and see it as an important privilege.”
In her post, Handler wrote that the Council was well-known for its anti-Israel stance. “Since it was established in 2006, the Council has passed 68 resolutions condemning Israel, about 50 percent of the decisions aimed at any specific country. No other country gets similar treatment from the Council. The anti-Israel stance is so obvious that it has lost its relevance to the world.” As far as Bezeq is concerned, the Council’s threat “is another attempt to pressure a law-abiding company using illegitimate means. We will not be a part of this campaign, which is nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda.”