Israeli war crimes rewarded with UN handshakes

Ofra settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank 17 November 2016

Maureen Clare Murphy writes in The Electronic Intifada:

The position of the United Nations seems to be: Israeli war crimes are bad, but we’re not going to do anything to stop them and we’re going to undermine meaningful efforts toward accountability.

One example of this is the unprecedented delay of the publication of a UN database of businesses involved in Israeli settlements, whose construction is a war crime under international law.  Human rights groups submitted yet another urgent appeal to UN bodies this week urging action that would ensure publication of the database.  “The release of the UN database is a necessary step in ensuring compliance, control and accountability for the role of businesses in the expansion of Israel’s settlement enterprise,” the signatories to the appeal state.

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council voted in favor of producing the database, with a release date of March 2017. But the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is mandated to compile the list, has repeatedly delayed its publication.  “Several organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have previously expressed concern that no other mandate given to the [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] by the Human Rights Council has been subject to such a prolonged unfounded and unacceptable delay,” the appeal states.

Israel has pledged “to do everything it can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” as Danny Danon, the country’s ambassador to the UN, said in 2017.  Israel fears publication of the list would harm its economy by prompting companies to pull out of settlements, deterring others from doing business and encouraging investors to dump shares.  It could also boost grassroots boycott campaigns by helping publicize the names of corporations complicit in Israeli crimes.  In other words, it would impose a real cost on Israel for flouting international law, a cost that has so far been borne by Palestinians.

Yet the UN is burying the database even as the International Criminal Court is poised to launch a war crimes investigation over Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

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