GENEVA — The UN human rights office said on Friday it has updated a list of companies doing business with Israeli settlements, removing 15 companies from the database that were no longer involved but retaining most of the international firms.
The long-awaited update comes at a time of surging settler violence in the West Bank in the past 15 months, as well as deadly clashes during Israeli army raids in cities like Jenin, a spate of fatal attacks by Hamas gunmen, and rampages by groups of settlers in Palestinian villages.
However, the UN list was limited in scope due to budget restrictions and the rights office was only able to review the original list of 112 companies, spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told a press briefing.
Most of the firms named in the database when it was set up were domiciled in Israel but it also included international firms listed in the United States, Britain and France, among others.
Packaged food maker General Mills was one of only two international firms removed from the list. Among those that remained were online travel sites Booking.com and Expedia and home-rental company Airbnb.
None of the companies were immediately available for comment. The UN rights office said that only 13 of the 112 companies listed cooperated on its update, without naming them.
"By updating this list, unfortunately once again the [Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights] and the Human Rights Council are further entrenching themselves as a partial actor in the region, serving those pursuing a discriminatory agenda against Israel," Israel's diplomatic mission in Geneva said. Its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the previous version, as did Washington, which has long protested the "disproportionate attention" given to Israel by the Geneva-based council.
The database was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 but was not released until 2020. Civil society groups say the database is an important tool to ensure transparency around business activities in the West Bank and to prompt companies to rethink their activities in the occupied territories.
However, Human Rights Watch said it was disappointing that the UN had failed to undertake the work needed to identify additional businesses and called for investigations to continue.
said on Friday it has updated a list of companies doing business
with Israeli settlements, removing 15 companies from the
database that were no longer involved but retaining most of the
The long-awaited update comes at a time of surging settler violence
in the West Bank in the past 15 months, as well as...