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Positive Steps Against Israeli Unaccountability

By Stephen Lendman

The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) compiled a database of international companies, lawlessly operating in illegal Israeli settlements - in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan, stolen land for exclusive Jewish development and use.

It’ll be published in December despite strong pressure by Israel and Washington to block it. Israeli and international companies operating in Occupied Palestine and Golan violate international law.

Revealing their names is a positive step. So is an action taken by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - a letter sent to 150 companies in Israel and internationally, warning of adding their names to a database of businesses operating illegally in Occupied Palestine.

The letters explained their operations violate international law and UN resolutions on Israel. They requested these companies respond, providing information about their operations.

Some already did, saying they won’t renew their contracts or sign new ones. “This could turn into a snowball,” said an unnamed Israeli official.

Thirty companies are US firms, including international giants Coca Cola, Caterpillar, Boeing, GE, Raytheon, L-3 Communications, United Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, Ingersoll Rand and Motorola.

Others are from Germany, Britain, other European countries and South Korea. Around 75 are Israeli companies, including pharmaceutical giant Teva, national phone company Bezeq, bus company Egged, national water company Mekorot, the county’s two largest banks Hapoalim and Leumi, military and technology company Elbit Systems, Africa-Israel, IDB and Netafim.

Commenting on companies operating illegally in Occupied Palestine, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti said “(a)fter decades of Palestinian dispossession and Israeli military occupation and apartheid, the United Nations has taken its first concrete, practical step to secure accountability for ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. Palestinians warmly welcome this step.”

Small positive actions hopefully mean more will follow, Barghouti adding exposure of companies “complicit in some of Israel’s human rights violations may augur the beginning of the end of (its) criminal impunity.”

Israel’s Foreign Affairs and other regime ministries continue trying to block publication of the UN’s blacklist, so far without success, unlikely to achieve it.

At the same time, it’s telling affected companies that the UN action is non-binding. It’s pressuring foreign governments, saying using the list makes them complicit with BDS activities.

Consensus is gradually building to acknowledge that operating in Occupied Palestine violates international law. There’s no getting around it.

BDS activism works, why Israel and Washington target it aggressively, including anti-BDS legislation, criminalizing it, violating America’s First Amendment, punishing individuals for their political beliefs.

Publishing a database of scofflaw Israeli and international companies won’t end occupation harshness. But it’s a positive step with hopefully much more to follow.’

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