Diplomacy & defense

Demonstrators from West Bank settlements protest outside cabinet meeting, November 22 2015
Resolution passed with 32 votes in favor, 15 abstentions and no votes against

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted today on Thursday to compile a ‘blacklist’ of Israeli and international companies who do business with Israeli settlements.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the resolution passed with 32 votes in favor, 15 abstentions and no votes against.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, condemned the vote, saying “when the UN marks Jewish business so that they can be boycotted it reminds us of dark times in the history. The Human Rights Council has turned into an accomplice of the BDS movement and its conduct is both anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.”

The Human Rights Council was formed to protect human rights and it is governed by a number of agenda items focusing on different areas. The decision to create a blacklist was taken as part of Chapter 7 on the Council’s agenda. This chapter’s sole focus is Israel.

“This is what the Human Rights Council chooses to debate while Europe is still reeling from a wave of terror attacks perpetrated by ISIS – the world’s worst human rights violator,” said Ambassador Danon.

“Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are murdered and forced to flee their homes as refugees and they choose to condemn Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East. This can only be described as record-breaking hypocrisy,” the Ambassador continued.

The list would include all companies working directly and indirectly in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights and is to be updated yearly.

The resolution condemns the settlements and urges businesses to refrain from working with settlements. Article 17 of the resolution calls for the creation of a database of all companies involved in settlements, including firms that supply equipment and services, which would be updated annually.

According to Haaretz, Israel had been working to stop the resolution in its tracks or, at the very least, kill Article 17, which is particularly worrisome to the government. Haaretz also quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the US had been working behind the scenes make its opposition clear to some of the UNHRC's 47 member nations.

The issue of Jewish settlements is a long-standing point of contention in the international arena. At the AIPAC conference this week, US Vice President Joe Biden characterized the "steady policy of expanding settlements, legalizing outposts" as "eroding the two state solution."

Menahem Kahana (AFP/File)

In January, the European Union reiterated that it considers Israel's borders to end at the 1967 Green Line, and that therefore any arrangements made between Israel and member countries will not apply to settlements.

Relations have been strained between Israel and the EU following the bloc's publishing of guidelines on the labeling of products from Jewish settlements last November. Following the EU decision, Israel suspended a number of dialogue meetings with European officials, mainly regarding Palestinian projects and EU projects in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank.

The EU has held for many years that a final agreement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on a two-state solution, and that Israeli settlements are illegal and undermine peace efforts.

Israel reportedly considered leaving the UNHRC last summer following a report that alleged that the country may have committed war crimes during the 2014 50-day war in Gaza.

In 2012, then-Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman severed ties with the UNHRC after the world body planned on sending a team to probe the impact of Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian human rights.

A year-and-a-half later, however, Netanyahu reestablished ties with the Human Rights Council.

i24NEWS' diplomatic correspondent Tal Shalev contributed to this report

19 Comments

You need to be logged in to post comments. Sign up or log in