Israel and the Trump administration are racing against the clock to stop publication of a United Nations “blacklist” of companies operating in Judea and Samaria, due out at the end of the year.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the Associated Press.
Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sent letters to approximately 190 companies listed in the database informing them of their status. The list targets Israeli and international businesses – including dozens of major American companies – which operate in some part over the Green Line, land the United Nations considers “occupied” territory.
The US and Israel fear the list may have devastating consequences for the Israeli economy, serving to drive away business, acting as a deterrent for companies considering coming to Israel, or harming investment in Israeli firms. It also majorly bolsters the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, critics charge.
“It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the anti-Semitic BDS movement,” said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the list “counterproductive.”
Though as yet unpublished, the blacklist reportedly includes major American corporations like Airbnb, Caterpillar, Priceline, and TripAdvisor, as well as Israeli companies such as Coca-Cola Israel, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, communications giant Bezeq, and bus company Egged.
Technically, the blacklist has no legal status, and “violators” will face no penalty; unlike the Security Council, the Human Rights Council has no authority to impose sanctions on companies doing business in Judea and Samaria. But it has already had a negative impact, with a number of companies who received threatening letters quickly agreeing to pull out of contracts in Israel.
The Human Rights Council is notorious for its criticism of Israel, with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley threatening the US may leave the UN body – as it recently did UNESCO – over its blatant anti-Israel bias.
Both the US and Israeli governments are putting diplomatic pressure on the Council, and the two nations’ combined efforts have seen some success, albeit less than a victory – the list’s publication will be pushed back from December to early 2018, the Times of Israel reported.