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US reportedly works to thwart UN list of firms operating in Israeli settlements

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein addressed the opening session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, on February 27, 2017
Fabrice COFFRINI (AFP)
State Dept. spokeswoman says US 'has been adamantly opposed' to resolution 'from the start'

US President Donald Trump's administration is working to stop the United Nations from publishing a "blacklist" of companies that operate in Israeli settlements in areas claimed by the Palestinians, the Washington Post reported Monday, citing diplomats and other sources.

"The United States has been adamantly opposed to this resolution from the start," the newspaper quoted State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert as saying. "These types of resolutions are counterproductive and do nothing to advance Israeli-Palestinian issues."

Nauert said the US had turned to the UN to oppose funding for work related to the list's creation but was unsuccessful.

"We have made clear our opposition regarding the creation of a database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and we have not participated and will not participate in its creation or contribute to its content," she was quoted as saying.

The UN Human Rights Council voted in 2016 to compile the list, prompting an outcry in Israel. 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.”

Washington issued a condemnation of its own, with then-State Department spokesman John Kirby saying that the body was guilty of "bias against Israel."

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has said he intends to publish the list by the end of the year.

US companies who appear on the list include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com, Airbnb, and others, according to the Washington Post, which cited sources familiar with it.

International pressure has been previously been placed on companies working in the West Bank, with Israeli company SodaStream announcing in late 2014 it was closing its plant in the West Bank following a boycott campaign that included targeting Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson after she advertised its product.

The plant closed in October 2015, with more than 500 Palestinians made redundant, the company said.

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