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.
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.
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.
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.
- settlement business
- settlement goods
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Israeli banks
- Israel Aerospace Industries
- Shikun & Binui Ltd
- Danya Cebus
- Partner Communications Ltd.
- Israeli settlements
- Rabbis for Human Rights
- Golan Heights