After repeated delays, the United Nations human rights office Wednesday released a list of more than 100 companies it says are operating in Israel’s West Bank settlements — a first-ever attempt to name and shame businesses that has drawn fierce criticism from Israel and the U.S.
In its report, the office said the companies’ activities “raised particular human rights concerns.”
A spokesman for Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the report was not a "blacklist" and was not intended to qualify any of the companies' business activities as illegal.
The list is dominated by Israeli companies, including banks and construction firms. 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.
The report issued in Geneva said 94 of the companies were domiciled in Israel and 18 were listed in six other countries -- the United States, Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Thailand and France.
Over U.S. objections, the council in 2016 instructed the UN’s human rights office to create a “database” of companies deemed to be linked to or supportive of the settlements, which are considered illegal by the vast majority of the international community.
Publication of the list was postponed last March when the commissioner, Michelle Bachelet released a statement explaining her decision.
“Given the novelty of the mandate and its legal, methodological and factual complexity, further consideration is necessary to fully respond to the council’s request,” she said.
At the time it was assumed the postponement was the result of Israeli and American pressure.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded furiously
"We will fight this declaration with all our might," he said. "When the world recognizes our sovereignty on these regions and settlements, this list will become void."
The rights council, which is made up of 47 governments, had never before requested such a list scrutinizing corporate activities.
First published: 17:13 , 02.12.20