The United Nations human rights office said on Wednesday it had identified 206 companies so far doing business linked to Israeli communities in Yehudah and Shomron, and it urged them to avoid any complicity in “pervasive” violations against Palestinians.
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, criticized the timing of the report’s release, and vowed to fight the release of any “blacklist” of companies.
“On the day that the U.N. is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the UNHRC has chosen to publicize this information about the number of companies operating in Israel,” he said in a statement. “This is a shameful act which will serve as a stain on the UNHRC forever.
“We will continue to act with our allies and use all the means at our disposal to stop the publication of this disgraceful blacklist,” he added.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli news media said that Israel and the U.S. had successfully wielded pressure to have the UNHRC “blacklist” postponed indefinitely.
Israel assailed the Human Rights Council in March 2016 for launching the initiative at the request of countries led by Pakistan, calling the database a “blacklist” and accusing the 47-member state forum of behaving “obsessively” against it.
Israel’s mission in Geneva said on Wednesday that it was preparing a statement responding to the U.N. report. There was no immediate reaction from the United States.
Israel fears that companies on the list could be targeted for boycotts or divestment if they are named.
“Once OHCHR has been in contact with all 206 companies, and subject to determinations of their responses and non-responses, OHCHR expects to provide the names of the companies engaged in listed activities in a future update. Before the determinations on the companies are made public, OHCHR will notify the companies concerned,” the report read.
“Businesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements,” the U.N. report said.
The majority of the companies, or 143, are domiciled in Israel or Yehudah and Shomron, followed by 22 in the United States, it said. The remainder are based in 19 other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain.
The report, which did not name the companies but said that 64 of them had been contacted to date, said that the work in producing the U.N. database “does not purport to constitute a judicial process of any kind.”
The office’s mandate was to identify businesses involved in housing construction in the region, surveillance, services including transport, and banking and financial operations such as loans for housing that may raise human rights concerns.
“We hope that our work in consolidating and communicating the information in the database will assist States and businesses in complying with their obligations and responsibilities under international law,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.
Zeid’s office deferred the report last February, saying it needed more time to establish the database. It is to be debated at the U.N. Human Rights Council session of Feb 26–March 23.