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Palestinians welcome UN's list of companies complicit in illegal Israeli expansion

PALESTINIANS slammed today the multibillion-dollar companies exploiting the illegal Israeli settlement project after the United Nations released a list of 112 companies profiting from the colonialist enterprise.

Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and Motorola were among the global firms named in the long-awaited list which the UN was mandated to prepare by the Human Rights Council in 2016.

Release of the database was welcomed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation. 

It said its publication enhanced and strengthened the credibility of the UN and international organisations “in the face of the fierce attack and the intense pressure that the Trump administration places on these institutions to impede the implementation of its legal and humanitarian mandate entrusted to it by the international community.”

UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet said that she understood the report would be contentious.

And Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out with a predictable response, warning: “Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted. We strongly reject this contemptible effort.”

He branded the UN Human Rights Council “a biased and influential body.”

The report looked at companies’ involvement in a range of specific activities relating to illegal settlements. It listed 112 companies which it said it had “reasonable grounds” to conclude had been involved in these activities.

PLO secretary general Saeb Erekat said: “While this list does not include all the companies profiting from Israel’s illegal colonial-settlement enterprise in occupied Palestine, it’s a crucial first step to restore hope in multilateralism and international law.”

He called on all companies “to end their complicity in the denial of our inalienable right to self-determination.”

“It is our firm belief that accountability and justice are essential requirements for peace. This database is the first concrete step towards holding Israel accountable for its illegal colonial-settlement enterprise in over half a century,” Mr Erekat added.

Release of the database should serve as a reminder to the international community of the importance of upholding international law, he said.

It comes as the Israel illegal settlement project expands, with pledges by both the frontrunners for the March 2 election — Mr Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz — committed to the annexation of vast swathes of the West Bank.

Around 600,000 people live in about 140 Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are deemed illegal under international law, including the Geneva Convention.

None of the companies named on the list had responded at the time the Star went to print.

How companies profit from the illegal settlements

Supplying equipment and materials facilitating the construction and expansion of settlements and Israel’s West Bank barrier;

Supplying equipment for the demolition of housing and property, and the destruction of farms, greenhouses, olive groves and crops;

Providing services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport;

Banking and financial operations helping to develop, expand or maintain settlements and their activities, including loans for housing and businesses.
 

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