Diplomacy

Haley: UN Database of Businesses Operating in West Bank is Sign of “Anti-Israel Obsession”

The reported database of companies doing business in the West Bank by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is “yet another reminder of the Council’s anti-Israel obsession,” the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement released Wednesday, reacting to news that the Council had released a report about the database.

“This whole issue is outside the bounds of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office’s mandate and is a waste of time and resources,” the ambassador said. “While we note that they wisely refrained from listing individual companies, the fact that the report was issued at all is yet another reminder of the Council’s anti-Israel obsession. The more the Human Rights Council does this, the less effective it becomes as an advocate against the world’s human rights abusers. The United States will continue to aggressively push back against the anti-Israel bias, and advance badly needed reforms of the Council.”

The report, released this week by the UNHRC, mandated in March 2016 the creation of the database of companies doing business in the West Bank, which the UN considers to be illegally occupied territory, Agence France-Presse reported.

Law professor Eugene Kontrovich, has pointed out that there are numerous other instances of countries in possession of what is called “occupied territory,” but that it is only Israel that is singled out for condemnation.

“The study reveals that international businesses play a crucial role supporting occupation and settlement enterprises around the world in places such as Western Sahara, Northern Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Crimea,” Kontorovich, referring to a study he conducted on the topic, told the UNHRC last year, but “the Council has never condemned any of this business activity.”

According to AFP, there are 206 companies, the majority of them based in Israel, who are under review by the UNHRC. The report said that just 64 of those companies have been contacted by the Council, forcing a delay in publishing their names.

In response to the announcement of a delay in publishing the names in the database, Anne Herzberg, legal counsel for NGO Monitor, said in a statement, “For more than a year, NGO Monitor has repeatedly warned that there are significant due process concerns with the creation of a UN blacklist of companies. In his report and in announcing previous delays, the High Commissioner acknowledged the centrality of these issues.”

Among the due process problems with the database are that the UNHRC does not have a mandate to impose sanctions and that the Councils criteria for defining “settlement activity” are “overly broad.”

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