The US government will not provide information to the UN for its list of companies operating in occupied Palestinian territories, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo has said, accusing the international body of anti-Israel bias.
The long-delayed document, which names 112 companies operating in the West Bank and Golan Heights, was released by the watchdog on Wednesday. It says that some business activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory raises human rights concerns. The list’s publication was sure to provoke the ire of Israel and its main ally.
“The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database,” Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday. “Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations… 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.”
The process of creating the database was quite lengthy – the idea of it was initially floated back in 2017, when the inclusion of over 200 companies was hinted at, though the finished document lists a little over half this number. The report admits that “the database does not cover all business activity related to settlements, and does not extend to wider business activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that may raise human rights concerns,” going on to say that it also does not cover “non-business enterprises.”
While the office of Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has apparently tried to downplay the importance of the report – insisting it was not a “blacklist” and was not meant to qualify any of the companies’ business activities as illegal – the document still provoked a furious reaction in some quarters.
Pro-Israeli groups in the US were angered by the report, with the StandWithUs lobbying group branding the document an “outrageous and anti-Semitic ‘blacklist’,” adding that “boycotts against Jews” are the tactic of choice for anti-Semites.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz branded the document a “shameful capitulation” to anti-Israel groups, while Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu accused the UNHRC of “trying to blacken Israel’s name” instead of doing its job of “dealing with human rights.”
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