US urges UN to blacklist Israeli settlement companies

The United States said Friday it was urging the United Nations not to update a blacklist of companies doing business in Israeli settlements, despite Washington’s calls for its ally to halt expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The State Department confirmed that it had approached the UN human rights office with concerns about the list, the first publication of which in 2020 infuriated Israel, AFP reported.

The United States ‘continues to oppose any update work’ and has raised concerns ‘directly with the High Commission’ for human rights, State Department spokesperson told reporters Vedant Patel.

“Our view is that this database only serves to reinforce an anti-Israel bias that too often finds ground in UN venues,” he said.

“Furthermore, this database poses a real threat to companies doing business or contemplating business operations in the region.”

The initial post – which listed US companies such as Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor – was denounced by the then administration of Donald Trump, which overturned longstanding US opposition to settlements in the West Bank .

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a speech on Sunday, warned the new right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States would oppose settlement expansion as well as any attempt to annex the West Bank .

Axios, citing Israeli sources, said new UN rights chief Volker Turk faced a looming choice on whether to update the list and could do so quietly without announcing it.

The UN report comes in response to a 2016 Human Rights Council resolution calling for a “database for all companies engaged in specific activities related to Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

After the listing was published, Airbnb said it would stop advertising in the settlements, but backtracked after a backlash in the United States and Israel.

In Norway, the listing has led the sovereign wealth fund to dump companies involved in settlements, citing concerns about human rights abuses.

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