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UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements Was Dead on Arrival
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After lengthy delays, the United Nations finally published a database last week of businesses that have been profiting from Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the West Bank.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, announced that 112 major companies had been identified as operating in Israeli settlements in ways that violate human rights.

Aside from major Israeli banks, transport services, cafes, supermarkets, and energy, building and telecoms firms, prominent international businesses include Airbnb,, Motorola, Trip Advisor, JCB, Expedia and General Mills.

Human Rights Watch, a global watchdog, noted in response to the list’s publication that the settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. It argued that the firms’ activities mean they have aided “in the commission of war crimes”.

The companies’ presence in the settlements has helped to blur the distinction between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. That in turn has normalised the erosion of international law and subverted a long-held international consensus on establishing a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Work on compiling the database began four years ago. But both Israel and the United States put strong pressure on the UN in the hope of preventing the list from ever seeing the light of day.

The UN body’s belated assertiveness looks suspiciously like a rebuke to the Trump administration for releasing this month its Middle East “peace” plan. It green-lights Israel’s annexation of the settlements and the most fertile and water-rich areas of the West Bank.

In response to the database, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to intensify his country’s interference in US politics. He noted that his officials had already “promoted laws in most US states, which determine that strong action is to be taken against whoever tries to boycott Israel.”

He was backed by all Israel’s main Jewish parties. Amir Peretz, leader of the centre-left Labour party, vowed to “work in every forum to repeal this decision”. And Yair Lapid, a leader of Blue and White, the main rival to Netanyahu, called Bachelet the “commissioner for terrorists’ rights”.

Meanwhile, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, accused the UN of “unrelenting anti-Israel bias” and of aiding the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

In fact, the UN is not taking any meaningful action against the 112 companies, nor is it encouraging others to do so. The list is intended as a shaming tool – highlighting that these firms have condoned, through their commercial activities, Israel’s land and resource theft from Palestinians.

The UN has even taken an extremely narrow view of what constitutes involvement with the settlements. For example, it excluded organisations like FIFA, the international football association, whose Israeli subsidiary includes six settlement teams.

This week it also emerged that Amazon was aiding the settlements, though it is not named on the list. The online retail giant delivers for free to addresses in West Bank settlements, while imposing large shipping charges on Palestinians living nearby.

One of the identified companies, Airbnb, announced in late 2018 that it would remove from its accommodation bookings website all settlement properties – presumably to avoid being publicly embarrassed.

But a short time later Airbnb backed down. It is hard to imagine the decision was taken on strictly commercial grounds: the firm has only 200 settlement properties on its site.

A more realistic conclusion is that Airbnb feared the backlash from Washington and was intimated by a barrage of accusations from pro-Israel groups that its new policy was anti-semitic.

In fact, the UN’s timing could not be more tragic. The list looks more like the last gasp of those who – through their negligence over nearly three decades – have enabled the two-state solution to wither to nothing.

Trump’s so-called peace plan could afford to be so one-sided only because western powers had already allowed Israel to void any hope of Palestinian statehood through decades of unremitting settlement expansion. Today, nearly 700,000 Israeli Jews are housed on occupied Palestinian territory.

On Monday European Union foreign ministers met to respond to the plan, but predictably they agreed to postpone a decision until after Israel’s election on March 2. Tepid opposition is probably the best that can ultimately be expected.

The actions of several European states continue to speak much louder than any words.

Last Friday, Germany followed the Czech Republic in filing a petition to the International Criminal Court at The Hague siding with Israel as the court deliberates whether to prosecute Israeli officials for war crimes, including over the establishment of settlements.

Germany does not appear to deny that the settlements are war crimes. Instead, it hopes to block the case on dubious technical grounds: that despite Palestine signing up to the Rome Statute, which established the Hague court, it is not yet a fully fledged state.

So far Austria, Hungary, Australia and Brazil appear to be following suit.

But if Palestine lacks the proper attributes of statehood, it is because the US and Europe, including Germany, have consistently broken promises to the Palestinians.

They not only refused to intervene to save the two-state solution, but rewarded Israel with trade deals and diplomatic and financial incentives, even as Israel eroded the institutional and territorial integrity necessary for Palestinian self-rule.

Germany’s stance, like that of the rest of Europe, is hypocritical. They have claimed opposition to Israel’s endless settlement expansion, and now to Trump’s plan, but their actions have paved the way to the annexation of the West Bank the plan condones.

Back in November the European Court of Justice finally ruled that products made in West Bank settlements – using illegally seized Palestinian resources on illegally seized Palestinian land – should not be labelled deceptively as “Made in Israel”.

And yet European countries are still postponing implementation of the decision. Instead, some of them are legislating against their citizens’ right to express support for a settlement boycott.

Similarly, Europe and North America continue to afford the Jewish National Fund, an entity that finances settlement-building, “charitable status”, giving it tax breaks as it raises funds inside their jurisdictions.

The Israeli media is full of stories of how the JNF actively assists extremist settler groups in evicting Palestinians from homes in East Jerusalem. But Britain and other states are blocking legal efforts to challenge the JNF’s special status.


Soon, it seems, Europe will no longer have to worry about its hypocrisy being so visible. Once the settlements have been annexed, as the Trump administration intends, the EU can set aside its ineffectual agonising and treat the settlements as irrevocably Israeli – just as it has done in practice with the Israeli “neighbourhoods” of occupied East Jerusalem.

Then, the UN’s list of shame can join decades’ worth of condemnatory resolutions that have been quietly gathering dust.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine 
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  1. A123 says:

    The war criminals of the UNHCR follow the shame of UNRWA. Their blatant violations of international law were immediately ignored by the civilized world. Abolishing the U.N. would be a huge step forward for mankind.

    When will Muslims give up the false hope of stealing the ancestral home of Judaism (Judea & Samaria)?

    Everyone would be better off if Muhammadian colonization had never happened. Alas, without a time machine, we cannot undo the original war crime. Peace can only be found by ending the Islamic occupation. The descendants of Muslim colonizers, that arrived ~1,400 years earlier, need to return East to the original lands of Islam.

    The necessary Decolonization would be supported by the civilized world. The descendants of the original invaders would have better lives immediately as they taste the freedom of having their own land rather that stealing someone else’s.

    PEACE 😇

  2. Kali says:

    Peace? Yeah, maybe, once “israel” has been wiped of the map.

    • Agree: Crazy Horse
  3. As the influence of the New York/London/Tel Aviv axis declines in relation to the other nations of the U.N., it’s ability to use sanctions as a weapon will be so much huffing and puffing.

    Despite small victories for the axis, its fall is picking up momentum. The leaders who come after Trump will have very little impact on the inevitable course of history. By mid century it will be a very different landscape.

    Israel’s relative power is at a high water mark.

  4. @A123

    The standard Hasbara Bollocks from one of Unz Review’s most unpopular Rabid Zionists).

    (Ever wonderd why there is so much hatred for the Gentiles/Goyim.
    A must watch for every non jew)

    (Below timeline and references)
    2:45 Old Testament Esau and Jacob –
    14:30 Who is Esau, Jacob
    17:55 Esau is the ancestor of Rome –

    30:00 rabbia Schneerson – A Jew is a Jew –
    33:50 Why does Esau hate Jacob?
    36:00 rabbi ??? – why people hate Jews

    40:00 Trump and the 3rd temple, Trump as Esau
    42:17 Dore Gold at CPAC –
    46:00 Rabbi Mendel Kessin – Trump and the Messianic Process

    50:00 MalachaI rabbi – Terror in our time –
    51:00 Rabbi David Touitou –
    52:30 Origin of Edom, Babylon, and Rome, or Christianity –
    54:00 Rabbi Mendel Kessin

    1:03:30 Obadiah –
    1:07:30 The Jewish Utopia
    1:11:30 Isaiah, Luke
    1:15:30 Rabbi A. Raskin –
    1:25 Trump is Edom, Ivanka is Esther

    1:31:30 Tuvia Tenenbom – “the Europeans murdered your grandparents”
    1:34:30 ” the last thing that a Jew should do when he or she leaves Europe is spit” –
    1:37:40 White replacement..

  5. Today, nearly 700,000 Israeli Jews are housed on occupied Palestinian territory

    Stop conceding ground to moral wrongs just because they happened before you were born.

    Almost every ‘Israeli’ is ‘housed on occupied Palestinian territory’ unless they
    ① are descendants of people who lived there (perfectly peacefully) immediately prior to the British Mandate; or
    ② are housed in a property that was acquired by an unbroken chain of entirely-voluntary sales – no duress, misrepresentation, fraud or other coercion – that began with a person from ①.

    The number of people in Occupied Palestine that fit either ① or ② is quite small.

    If the Palestinians were properly led, life in Occupied Palestine would be unbearable for the occupiers and their camp-followers and anchor-babies. Merito beneficium legis amittit, qui legem ipsam subvertere intendit.

    • Replies: @Lot
  6. Crazy Horse says: • Website

    When will Muslims give up the false hope of stealing the ancestral home of Judaism (Judea & Samaria)?

    Most Jews in IsRaHell don’t even come Judea & Samaria they are morally degenerate, phallic worshipping carpet baggers and land thieves from the old Khazarian Empire:

    Thus history proves that there is no “ancestral” connection whatsoever. Thus like most of what you write it’s total unadulterated BS. Hey but it’s okay to lie to goyim according to the Talmud. Right?

  7. Crazy Horse says: • Website

    Not really a totally wasted effort as it tells anyone who opposes the racist, genocidal, apartheid, terrorist state who their corporate collaborators are and thus who to boycott.

  8. Think of the company as an honorary Aryan. You can add Amazon to the list — however inconvenient that may be:

    ‘Amazon is offering free shipping to customers in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, while charging Palestinians fees up to $24 when they list the “Palestinian Territories” as their country.’

    For myself, I intend to order from an alternative vendor whenever possible — and let Amazon know that I did, and why.

    • Replies: @Lot
    , @BDS Always
  9. Lot says:

    “Stop conceding ground to moral wrongs just because they happened before you were born.”

    So you’re saying the Arabs in the Levant and North Africa should all be expelled back to Arabia, undoing their unjust ancient conquests?

    OK if you insist, but sounds impractical.

  10. Lot says:
    @Colin Wright

    0.5% of my Amazon purchases are donated to support the Jewish resettlement of Judea through Amazon Smile.

    I don’t use Amazon much anymore, but it does add up over the years!

  11. @Colin Wright

    Best to avoid using the Amazon Zio Intelligence arm. Give them none of our personal data.

    Always ask Ebay sellers and other sellers if they use Amazon for shipping or the product they are selling comes through Amazon.
    I once bought an item for the Mrs which was a few english pounds more in price than the Amazon price and it was delivered by Amazon.
    So now I ask if Amazon is involved.

  12. Greg Bacon says: • Website

    Peace can only be found by ending the Islamic occupation

    A123, let me fix your typo:

    Peace can only be found by ending the Zionist occupation. Use DNA testing to see which of the Jew interlopers are actually Jews. They can stay, but that won’t happen, since several extensive Israeli DNA tests have conclusively shown that the large majority of Israelis claiming to be Jews are not, their ancestors came from eastern Europe and western Russia and they were NEVER in the ME. Some that were came from Persia.

    Tell me A123, are you a professional pest, that like your IDF storm trooper heroes, take delight in torturing Gentiles or maybe you’re a professional pest, that gets paid from Zionist outfits like Megaphone or the ADL or some Israeli agency, like their Unit 8200?

    Doesn’t really matter, I’m just curious. My guess is that you’re a professional that has some kind of software that enables you to post the first or second comment at an UNZ article so you can spread your hasbara early and often.

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