The UN's Human Rights Commissioner has begun sending letters to 150 companies in Israel and around the world, warning them that they are about to be added to a database of companies doing business in Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats involved in the matter told Haaretz on Wednesday.
The letter-sending process began two weeks ago, the officials told the newspaper.
The Israeli official, who requested to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, noted that the letters, sent by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said these firms were doing business in the "occupied Palestinian territories" and could thus find themselves on the UN blacklist for companies acting in violation of "internal law and UN decisions."
The letters, copies of which also reached the Israeli government, request that these firms send the commission clarifications about their business activities in settlements, according to Haaretz.
A Western diplomat, who also requested to remain anonymous, noted that of the 150 companies, some 30 were American, and a number are from countries including Germany, South Korea and Norway. The remaining half are Israeli companies.
The UN Human Rights Council voted to approve the database of companies last year, despite objections from the United States and Israel. The Trump administration has been trying to persuade the UN not to publish the list.
Recent reports said that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley conveyed messagesthrough diplomatic channels to senior UN officials to the effect that the U.S. will cut all funding to the UN Human Rights Council if the blacklist is published.
Palestinian Arab officials have urged the UN to publish the blacklist, saying that it is important to publish the names of companies, institutions and personalities that help the "colonialist settlement."
The Washington Post reported in August that among the American companies that received the letters from Al Hussein were Caterpillar, Priceline.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb. Israel's Channel 2 News reported two weeks ago that the list includes some of the biggest companies in Israel, such as Teva, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq, Elbit, Coca-Cola Israel, Africa-Israel, IDB, Egged, Mekorot and Netafim.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Wednesday condemned threats to blacklist 150 Israeli and international companies for doing business in “occupied Palestinian territories.”
The condemnation followed reports in Haaretzof a letter sent two weeks ago by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein warning the companies that they would be added to a database of businesses acting in violation of “international law and UN decisions.”
The letter also requested the companies clarify their business activities in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to the high commission.
“It is most unfortunate that an important U.N. body would blackmail global businesses into joining a hypocritical international boycott campaign against Israel,” WJC CEO Robert Singer said in a statement.
In a meeting between Singer and the high commissioner in November of 2016, Singer expressed his organization’s strong opposition to the compilation of such a database.
Since then, the statement noted, numerous senior WJC officials as well as members of the WJC’s Jewish Diplomatic Corps (JD Corps) have expressed the same views to many ambassadors to the UN Human Rights Council.