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U.N. Compiles List Of Companies That Profit From Israeli Settlements


The United Nations human rights office says it made a list. It's a list of companies that do business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Much of the international community rejects settlements on Israeli occupied lands, so publishing a list of companies dealing with those settlements has become part of an intense debate. The U.S. and Israel want the United Nations not to publish what they call a blacklist. NPR's Daniel Estrin has more from Jerusalem.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has identified 206 companies around the world that it says enable and profit from Israeli settlements, from companies that provide construction equipment used to build settlement homes, to banks that give settlers mortgage loans, to tourism companies that include settlements on websites to book accommodation.

The U.N. hasn't yet published the names, but months ago, Israeli media reported TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Coca-Cola and the construction equipment company Caterpillar were under review. The U.N. Human Rights Council says settlements infringe on Palestinian rights. They're built on land Israel captured in the 1967 war, land Palestinians want for a country of their own. Israel objects to the U.N. initiative. Eugene Kontorovich is a legal expert at the pro-Israel think tank the Kohelet Policy Forum

EUGENE KONTOROVICH: If the Human Rights Council thinks that doing businesses occupied territories as a human rights problem, why not make a list of companies doing businesses in occupied territories like Western, Sahara, Cyprus, Crimea? Put Israel on the list, too, if they want. But if it's a problem only when done by Israel, then it's not a human rights problem.

ESTRIN: It's bias, he says, and an attempt to create economic pressure to boycott Israel. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said the U.N. report was an example of the Human Rights Council's anti-Israel obsession. Palestinians are calling on the U.N. to publish the names of the companies so people know who is doing business in Israeli settlements. The U.N. says it expects to publish the names of the companies in its database in the future.

Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem.

(SOUNDBITE OF KINACK'S "ONDAS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.
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