UN set to establish database of businesses involved in Israeli settlements

March 23, 2016 /

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is set to vote on Thursday on whether to establish a database of businesses involved in Israeli settlements.

The UNHRC, meeting in its 31st session, will be considering four resolutions under Item 7, which focuses on the impact of the Israeli occupation on human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. Such resolutions are routinely adopted.

A resolution on Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, however, has reportedly upset European Union member states, in particular by calling for “a database of all business enterprises involved” in illegal settlement activities, which will be updated annually.

The database is presented as a follow up to an earlier fact-finding mission, which investigated “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

Middle East Monitor understands from sources familiar with the discussions taking place that European Union member states will either vote against, or abstain from, the resolution. The UK is reportedly expected to vote against, with significant pressure being applied on Palestinian officials to remove the paragraph establishing the database of businesses involved in settlement activities.

The resolution notes that “the settlement enterprise and the impunity associated with its persistence, expansion and related violence continue to be a root cause of many violations of the Palestinians’ human rights, and constitute the main factors perpetuating Israel’s belligerent occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 1967.”

The resolution goes on to express concern that “some business enterprises have, directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

The UNHRC resolution also notes that “products wholly or partially produced in settlements have been labelled as originating from Israel”, and that “private individuals, associations and charities in third States” are “involved in providing funding to Israeli settlements and settlement-based entities, contributing to the maintenance and expansion of settlements.”

As well as the database, the draft text urges all states to “provide guidance to individuals and businesses on the financial, reputational and legal risks, including the possibility of liability for corporate involvement in gross human rights abuses as well as the abuses of the rights of individuals, of becoming involved in settlement-related activities.”

On Monday, the UNHRC head from outgoing Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Makarim Wibisono, who presented his final report to the Council.

Among other recommendations, “he urged Israeli authorities to…halt the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, to refrain from acts causing the forced displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to urgently implement recommendations by the United Nations Children’s Fund with respect to the detention of children.”

Source MEMO