UN lists 112 businesses linked to Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

The UN Human Rights Office published a report on 12 February identifying 112 business entities involved in specific activities related to the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The UN Human Rights Council mandated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2016 to produce a database of companies involved in specific activities relating to settlements. Of the entities identified, 94 are domiciled in Israel and 18 in six other states - the United States, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Thailand and the UK.

FIDH, along with its member organisations and partners, welcome this long-awaited database which is a reflection of civil society organisations’ tireless mobilisation and documentation efforts, which served to substantiate OHCHR’s report. In the Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem, FIDH denounced the involvement of French companies - EGIS and SYSTRA, both subsidiaries of public institutions, and ALSTOM - in the light-rail construction aiming to connect West Jerusalem to the illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian side of Jerusalem, in violation of international law. Systra and Alstom withdrew from the project in June 2018 and May 2019, respectively, followed by Egis’ partial withdrawal in November 2019. Egis and Alstom remain in the UN database as they are involved in other activities related to the Israeli settlements.

Following the release of the OHCHR’s progress report in January 2018, FIDH, the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) published a joint submission proposing a robust normative framework and criteria for inclusion in the database, mapping out the variety of ways Israeli and foreign businesses were involved in the settlements. FIDH further advocated before the European Union, stressing the utmost importance of the EU and Member States’ support for the UN database as a necessary and proportionate measure to promote greater transparency, accountability and respect for international law by both states and businesses.

FIDH urges the international community to use the UN’s report as a reference to stop the trading of settlement products and to cease the activities of companies contributing to the development and maintaining of the settlements. FIDH warns companies named in the database against pursuing any activity potentially contradicting their international law and human rights commitments, reminding them of the risk to see their legal responsibility engaged.

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