1): Times of Israel, US tries to block publication of UNHRC’s database; 2) Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, Haaretz premium, the original resolution in 2016
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walks with Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, as they arrive for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
State Department says ‘counterproductive’ Human Rights Council’s measure will not facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace
By Tamar Pileggi, Times of Israel
August 22, 2017
The Trump administration is reportedly urging the UN’s Human Rights Council not to publish its blacklist of international companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, saying the move was “counterproductive” and would not advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Last year, the UN body unanimously voted to compile a database of all business enterprises that have enabled or profited from the growth of Israeli settlements in areas Palestinians see as part of their future state.
The proposal, put forward by the Palestinian Authority and Arab states in 2016, included a condemnation of settlements and called on companies not to do business with Israeli settlements.
According to a Tuesday report in the Washington Post, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein intends to publish the list by the end of 2017, despite opposition from the US and Israel.
“The United States has been adamantly opposed to this resolution from the start,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, according to reports. “These types of resolutions are counterproductive and do nothing to advance Israeli-Palestinian issues.”
Nauert said a joint US-Israel effort to stop funding for work related to the database had been unsuccessful.
“We have made clear our opposition regarding the creation of a database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and we have not participated and will not participate in its creation or contribute to its content,” she said.
Hussein, a Jordanian diplomat spearheading the initiative, had already agreed to postpone publishing the list once this year, in part due to US pressure, the report said. He has reached out to member states for input before September 1.
American companies on the list include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com, Airbnb and others, The Post reported, citing those familiar with the database.
On Monday, Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon slammed the Geneva-based council, claiming the creation of a blacklist amounted to antisemitism. Danon’s office said in a statement,
“This shameful step is an expression of modern antisemitism and reminds us of dark periods in history. Instead of focusing on the terrible humanitarian problems plaguing the globe, the Human Rights Commissioner is seeking to harm Israel, and in doing so has become the world’s most senior BDS activist.”
The statement called on the UN and the international community to reject the “dangerous” and “anti-Israel” initiative.
In June, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, condemned the blacklist as “the latest in this long line of shameful actions” taken by the UNHRC. She said in a speech in Geneva,
“Blacklisting companies without even looking at their employment practices or their contributions to local empowerment, but rather based entirely on their location in areas of conflict is contrary to the laws of international trade and to any reasonable definition of human rights. It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the antisemitic BDS movement. It must be rejected.”
Haley went on to warn at the time that the US could withdraw from the 47-member body unless it reformed, ending its built-in procedural mechanism to condemn Israel, and banning notorious human rights violators from serving on the council.
Since 2007, Israel has been the only country whose alleged human rights abuses are regularly discussed in the framework of a single permanent item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
Settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territory close to Jerusalem. Israel plans to build 6,000 new housing units in Palestinian areas. Photo by Mikkel Bahl/Courtesy of Danwatch
US boycotts UN rights council as special rapporteur accuses Israel of ‘the subjugation’ of Palestinians’
The UN’s special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories has decried how Israel’s “illegal settlement enterprise has moved at an alarming pace” this year.
Michael Lynk pointed on Monday [March 20] to announcements by Israel [of the intention] to build 6,000 new housing units in Palestinian areas, accompanied by “high rates of demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem”.
He accused Israel of “the subjugation of [Palestinians’] humanity”, and also cited a UN Security Council resolution in December that called the establishment of settlements in the West Bank a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Lynk made the statements in a report presented to the UN rights council during the Geneva-based body’s mandated session on Israel, known as Agenda Item Seven.
The US Department of State criticised the UN council on Monday for holding its Israel debate and vowed in a statement “to vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item”.
The United States also boycotted Monday’s session saying the regular review showed the council’s “long-standing bias against Israel”, which threatens the “credibility” of the body.
Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, denounced that Israel was the only country on the 47-member council’s calendar.
“It is not Syria, where the regime has systematically slaughtered and tortured its own people,” she said.
“It is not Iran, where public hangings are a regular occurrence. It is not North Korea, where the regime uses forced labour camps to crush its people into submission. It is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”
A letter from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to advocacy groups, obtained by the AP news agency last week, said the US would not continue participating unless the council undergoes “considerable reform”.
In the more than 230 country-specific resolutions at the council since it was founded 11 years ago, more than one-quarter have been focused on Israel, whose policies in Palestinian areas have raised rights concerns for decades.
Abbas rejected Kerry’s request to soften UN resolution targeting settlements, Palestinian official says.
By Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, Haaretz premium
March 24, 2016
The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution, initiated by the Palestinians, obligating the organization to draw up a list of all Israeli and international firms operating directly or indirectly in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The resolution was passed on Thursday night in Geneva, despite feverish efforts by the United States and several European countries to get the Palestinians to remove a contentious clause which calls for the compilation of a “black list” of companies. The resolution was supported by 32 countries, while 15 abstained. None opposed it.
On Thursday afternoon U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to block the resolution or at least soften its wording.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, March 24, 2016.Reuters
A senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told Haaretz that Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who met with Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday, also raised this issue. Both were told that the Palestinian leadership had no intention of backing down.
The resolution was advanced with the help of Egypt, Pakistan and other Arab and Muslim countries. It includes a condemnation of the settlements, stating that they are illegal under international law, and calls on the world’s countries to refrain from providing any assistance of any kind to the settlements and to warn companies and businesses against entering into business transactions in the settlements so as not to risk being involved in human rights violations. The resolution also calls on international companies to avoid direct or indirect transactions with the settlements.
Particularly worrisome to Jerusalem is Article 17 of the resolution, in which the UNHRC asks the UN high commissioner for human rights “to produce a database of all business enterprises [both Israeli and international] involved in the activities in the settlements,” that would be updated once a year.
The activities detailed in the resolution are not just settlement construction but even the supply of construction materials or equipment, the supply of monitoring equipment for the separation barrier, the supply of equipment used in home demolitions, supplying security services or equipment to the settlements or supplying financial or banking services that aid the settlements, including loans and home mortgages.
The senior Palestinian official said the Palestinians ascribe great importance to this resolution and the fact that it will produce a UN list of all companies that have direct or indirect connections to the Israeli settlement enterprise. They believe that such a list bearing the UN “stamp of approval” will influence many international companies to cut off their business dealings with the settlements or with Israeli companies that operate in the settlements.
Over the last few weeks, Israeli diplomats have been trying to scuttle the resolution.
The European Union tried, in vain, to persuade the Palestinians to remove Article 17 in return for EU support of the rest of the resolution. The Dutch ambassador, who spoke in the name of all the EU members at the council, said that the settlements are illegal according to international law and reiterated the EU’s opposition to Israel’s settlement policy. But he added that he was disappointed that the resolution included Article 17.
The British ambassador called the decision to compile a list “damaging” and said that the UN should not be busying itself with such issues.
Both the U.K. and the Netherlands abstained.
But Switzerland supported the resolution despite its reservations about Article 17. “Switzerland believes there are better ways to act toward private companies to ensure that they are not involved in violating human rights,” said the Swiss ambassador.
The resolution was one of four condemning Israel regarding the Palestinian issue and a fifth regarding the Golan Heights.
Israel’s Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Eviatar Manor, slammed the resolutions and called the discussions which preceded them “theatre of the absurd.” He noted that on Wednesday one resolution was passed on Syria and five minutes were allocated to North Korea. “But on Israel there were five resolutions.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that the passage of the resolution containing Article 17 “is further evidence of how this organization has a sick obsession with Israel, while at the same time ignoring the major areas of the world in which human rights are violated, primarily Syria, Libya and North Korea”. Nachshon said,
“While Islamic terror is raging in the world and hundreds of thousands have been killed in the war in Syria and in terror attacks across the Middle East, the ‘Human Rights Council’ proves once again that it is a cynical and hypocritical body that is detached from reality and irresponsible”.
During the discussion at the Human Rights Council the Palestinian ambassador, as well as those of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, lashed out at Israel. “The construction in the settlements undermines the regional and international efforts to reach a two-state solution,” said the Saudi ambassador.
“The continuation of this Israeli policy endangers the possibility of achieving a two-state solution in the future.”
NOTES AND LINKS
The Human Rights Council
Agenda item7, March 22, 2016
17. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in close consultation with the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, in follow-up to the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
and as a necessary step for the implementation of the recommendation contained in paragraph 117 thereof, to produce a database of all business enterprises involved in the activities detailed in paragraph 96 of the afore-mentioned report, to be updated annually, and to transmit the data therein in the form of a report to the Council at its thirty-fourth session;
18. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution, with particular emphasis on the human rights and international law violations involved in the production of settlement goods and the relationship between trade in these goods and the maintenance and economic growth of settlements, at its thirty-fourth session;
21 March 2017
These resolutions are cumulative, that is, they cite all previous resolutions and UNHRC acts which attempt to strengthen human rights under a particular regime.