HRC46 Joint Statement during the General debate under item 7

Press release

UN Human Rights Council - 46th Session

Item 7 - General Debate

17 March 2021

Madam President,

Due to pervasive impunity, Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise continues to expand while Palestinians are forcibly displaced and transferred, with the support of private actors including business enterprises - all in violation of international law. The annual update of the database, as mandated by HRC 31/36, is essential to deter business engagement with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, which constitutes a grave breach under international humanitarian law and a war crime under the Rome Statute.

Our organizations urge the OHCHR to increase transparency regarding the annual update process for the database and to provide a clear timeline for the publication of the 2021 update. It is important that the annual update is comprehensive by adding all businesses with activities and relationships with Israel’s settlement enterprise.

While the world is facing the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel has escalated its illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and properties, hitting a four-year high [1]. House demolitions from part of an institutionalized Israeli policy facilitating the expansion of settlements and de facto annexation. Demolitions have been carried out using equipment provided by companies, among others, JCB and Hyundai.

Between March 2020 and January 2021, Israel has demolished 470 structures, including 211 residential structures, 166 of which were inhabited, resulting in the displacement of 811 Palestinians, including 382 [2] children.

At the same time, Israel continues to accelerate the expansion of illegal settlements, housing units, and associated infrastructure including transportation, in which Israeli and multinational companies such as the Basque CAF have evidently been involved.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 raised concerns that in the first report of the database “a number of companies with important supply relationships with the settlements and/or the occupation were not included” [3].

Indeed, businesses continue to play a critical role in sustaining Israel’s illegal settlements and are contributing to and benefiting from Israel’s persistent and systemic violations against the Palestinian people.

We call on Member States to:

1. Support the OHCHR in fulfilling its mandate in its entirety to annually update the UN database and ensure the allocation of the required financial resources.
2. Issue clear guidelines and advisories to private actors and business enterprises - in line with international law - surrounding risks and legal repercussions of involvement in serious violations of international law should they be involved with Israel’s settlement enterprise.
3. Take the necessary measures to ensure that business enterprises listed in the database and located within their territory and/or jurisdiction respect international law.

Thank you.

Read more