U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said the U.S. government would not furnish any information for a database of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territories that the United Nations Human Rights Council recently released, and said the compilation hurts peace efforts in the Middle East.
After repeated delays, the UNHRC on Wednesday released a list of more than 100 companies it says are operating in the settlements — a first-ever attempt to name and shame businesses that has drawn fierce criticism from Israel and the U.S.
"The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database," Pompeo said in a statement Thursday.
"Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations," he said.
"Attempts to isolate Israel run counter to all of our efforts to build conditions conducive to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that lead to a comprehensive and enduring peace."
Two leading U.S. senators also assailed the release for its potential of making companies boycott targets.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and Republican Senator Rob Portman, who sit on the Finance Committee and Foreign Relations Committee, called it an "anti-Israel database, akin to a blacklist, of companies" that made major U.S. companies, including General Mills and Airbnb vulnerable to boycotts.
"The Human Rights Council should use its energy to encourage both Israel and the Palestinians to return to good faith negotiations," said Cardin.
"The United States cannot stand by while American businesses are being pressured by a foreign entity because of their work in Israel, one of our key allies."
Israel hit back furiously Wednesday at the publication, accusing the UN of bias and surrendering to anti-Israel elements and freezing ties with its human rights chief.
In its report, the office said the companies’ activities “raised particular human rights concerns.”
"The UN Human Rights Council is a biased and uninfluential body," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
"Instead of dealing with human rights this body is trying to blacken Israel's name. We reject any such attempt in the strongest terms and with disgust."
He also took a more pugnacious tone, vowing to "fight this declaration with all our might... When the world recognizes our sovereignty on these regions and settlements, this list will become void."
Israel also said Wednesday evening that it will freeze ties with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet over the publication of the list.
The step was taken at Netanyahu's direction.
The list is dominated by Israeli firms, including Hapoalim and Leumi banks, the Bezeq telecom giant and HOT cable and YES satellite companies.
But it also lists a number of international firms, including travel companies Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor, tech giant Motorola, consumer food maker General Mills and construction and infrastructure companies including France’s Egis Rail and British company JC Bamford Excavators.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz called the list a “shameful surrender” to countries and organizations that want to hurt Israel.
President Reuven Rivlin said boycotting Israeli companies is not conducive to peace and the building of trust.
"We call on our friends to oppose this shameful initiative," the president said, "I will stand by these businesses that are now under threat."