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Israel, US Exert Pressure to Prevent Publishing Blacklist | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein. (UN)

Ramallah – US President Donald Trump’s administration and Israel are urging the United Nations 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, Israeli sources said.

The UN Human Rights Council voted to approve the database of companies in 2016 over objections from the United States and Israel, which describe the list as a prelude to anti-Israel boycotts.

American companies on the list drawn up by the Geneva-based council include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com, Airbnb and others, according to people familiar with it. It is not clear whether the list has been finalized.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has told US officials he plans to publish the list by the end of the year and has asked for comments by September 1 from countries where affected firms are headquartered, diplomats said and Washington Post reported.

In a statement Monday, Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, called the council’s moves toward publication of the list “an expression of modern antisemitism.”

“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,” Danon said.

BDS is a movement that calls for the boycott of Israel.

“I call on the UN, and the international community as a whole, to halt this dangerous policy and put an end to this anti-Israel initiative,” Danon added.

In ordering that a list be created, the UN council invoked the 50-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the “implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.”

Most countries consider all Israeli settlements on occupied land to be illegal. Israel disagrees, citing historical and political links to the land – which the Palestinians also assert – as well as security interests.

A UN inquiry in 2013, which was the basis for the vote on the database, said that the settlements contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the transfer of civilians into occupied territory and could amount to war crimes.

The settlements were “leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state,” it said.