Coca-Cola reportedly on UN list of firms profiting from Israel’s crimes

A Palestinian holds a flag during a protest against a new Israeli settlement outpost  on the lands of Kafr Malik and al-Mughayyar villages, east of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, 24 March 2017.

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An Israeli newspaper has revealed the names of two dozen firms likely to appear on a UN list of companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

It had already been reported that about 150 companies have been warned by the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein that they could be named on the list, which is expected to be published in December.

On Thursday, Ynet, the online portal of Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper, reported it had seen a partial list of 25 firms that all operate in settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

They are: Ahava, Dor Alon, Amisragas, Angel Bakeries, Arison Investments, Ashdar, Clal Industries, Café Café, Cellcom, Danya Cebus, Electra, HP, Hot, Israel Aerospace Industries, Matrix Systems, Motorola, Nesher, Partner, Paz, Rami Levy, Remax, Shikun & Binui, Shufersal, Sonol and Trima.

It is unclear if any of the firms have been listed specifically for working in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which are part of Syria.

While Ynet calls the firms “Israeli,” they include the local affiliates of international brands such as HP, Motorola and Remax, which have already found themselves in the sights of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Partner was formerly mobile phone provider Orange Israel, but changed its name after Orange, the French parent company, pulled out of Israel following an international campaign over its role in settlements and Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza.

Israel’s Shikun & Binui and Danya Cebus have both been previously blacklisted by international pension funds over their roles in settlement construction.

Supermarket chain Shufersal has previously been promoted and supported by the French government despite its presence in West Bank settlements.

Danish pension fund excludes firms

According to Ynet, Israel’s Channel 2 has named a dozen more firms that may appear on the list, including Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, telecoms firm Bezeq, Coca-Cola, settlement builder Africa Israel, pharmaceuticals company Teva, Israel Discount Bank, bus company Egged, water company Mekorot, Netafim and Israel’s biggest arms maker Elbit Systems.

All of Israel’s major banks, including the ones named in these reports, are deeply involved in financing and facilitating Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land.

Denmark’s third largest pension fund, Sampension, recently excluded four firms from its portfolio over their role in the occupations: banks Hapoalim and Leumi, the German construction supply company HeidelbergCement and Bezeq, which owns telecommunications equipment installed within settlements.

Elbit Systems, notably, receives millions of dollars in “research” funding from the European Union, which pays routine lip service to opposing settlements.

Also in August, The Washington Post reported that a number of big name American firms could appear on the list, including Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com and Airbnb.

Action or toothless condemnation?

In September, the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli officials were alarmed by the impact that the list was already having, with a number of firms contacted by the UN preparing to pull out of Israel altogether.

Palestinians hailed the list, whose creation was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, as the first concrete step to hold Israel accountable for its settler-colonization of the occupied West Bank, which Israel has carried on for decades with impunity despite its illegality under international law.

Staunch Israel allies the US and European Union have tried to halt the impending publication of the list.

They are undoubtedly aware that similar lists published by the UN a generation ago helped galvanize global opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime.

The need for action was underscored again this week when Israel announced further major expansions of its settlements in the West Bank, including in the heart of Jerusalem.

The latest announcements came after a flurry of toothless condemnations of Israeli settlements from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the EU.

Ending impunity

According to Ynet, some of the firms “are already fighting back with the claim their inclusion on the list may cause them financial harm and tarnish their brand” and are considering legal action against the UN human rights commissioner.

“The companies claim the list’s creation was politically motivated and point to the fact that the commissioner constructed no such lists pertaining to other regions of conflict – such as the Crimean Peninsula and Western Sahara – as proof,” Ynet states.

But in contrast to the extraordinary impunity granted Israel, the US and EU did impose trade sanctions on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea. And some European lawmakers are pressuring the EU not to include Western Sahara in the area covered by its trade agreements with Morocco.

According to Ynet, Israel’s foreign ministry believes that the UN human rights commissioner “received most of his information about the Israeli firms from Israeli nonprofits operating in the settlements and investigating business activities.”

Israel’s government has been waging war against Israeli and foreign human rights groups in order to vilify them and impede their work.

In an apparent act of complicity with this campaign, Israel’s biggest bank, Bank Hapoalim, is blocking a $100,000 foreign donation to Rabbis for Human Rights.

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"But in contrast to the extraordinary impunity granted Israel, the US and EU did impose trade sanctions on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea."
All this while Israel is slowly annexing all of the Palestinian lands and the MSM is no where to be heard .
Simply find out if the Crimean people are happy to now be part of Russia and contrast this with whether the Palestinians want to be annexed by Israel .No need to answer as it is similar to night and day.

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Thanks for this valuable report. I have only one reservation, over the use of the term "blacklisting" to describe the process of publicly naming these firms. In the United States and throughout its history, blacklisting was an often clandestine means of denying employment to advocates of workers' rights, as well as being a means of publicly vilifying individual citizens for exercising their civil and political rights when they conflicted with the views of well-funded conservative organizations. Blacklisting is indelibly associated in the minds of most Americans with the silencing of dissent during the McCarthy period. I would suggest that exposing the illegal activities of powerful corporations does not qualify as blacklisting, but is rather (or ought to be) a welcome feature of any open society. If anyone today is being subjected to blacklisting, it's advocates on behalf of justice for Palestinians. I mention the subject only because I've begun to notice the term being employed in connection with the identification of companies leagued with Israel. They blacklist. We boycott.

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Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.