According to Israeli officials, the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights has to decide on updating the list by the end of the year.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The Biden administration is pressing the UN to drop its blacklist of firms doing business in Judea and Samaria as a decision on updating the registry looms, the State Department said Friday.
In a press briefing, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel confirmed to reporters that the United States “continues to oppose any work to update” the list, and has talked “directly” with the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk about it.
Moreover, the administration made it clear that it will not cooperate with any efforts to revise the list.
“We have not provided and will not provide any information to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on this database, and our position has been repeatedly made clear in public statements as well as in meetings that we’ve had directly with the Office of the High Commissioner,” Patel said.
According to the Axios report Wednesday that broke the story, American officials answered a call for help from Jerusalem in November regarding the potential update, with Israeli officials saying that December 31 is the deadline on deciding whether to add companies to it.
The list is supposed to be refreshed annually, but in 2021, then-UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said that the database report was not completed due to lack of funds.
The administration’s move was made despite its clear opposition to the settlements in Judea and Samaria, taking the Palestinian Authority’s view that they are an obstacle to a potential peace agreement with Israel.
The White House thinks a blacklist is a step too far, however.
“Our view is that this database only serves to reinforce an anti-Israel bias that too often finds traction in UN venues,” Patel noted. “Also, this database poses a genuine threat to companies doing business or considering business operations in the region.”
Israel has never made peace with the essential black-balling of 112 companies, fully 95 of them local ones that provide income to both Arab and Jewish employees and services to all who live in Judea and Samaria.
When the list was published in 2020, the Israeli Foreign Ministry slammed it as “a stain on the Office of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR)” that “represents the ultimate surrender to pressure exerted by countries and organizations interested in harming Israel.”
This could be seen from the fact that none of the companies on the list were judged as restricting or damaging the Palestinians’ own economy, but just as helping the Israeli economy.
Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised to help “members of our business community” who were “being threatened” by the “sorely mistaken” list. Several American companies are on the list, including communications technology giant Motorola Solutions, and tourism-related firms Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Booking.com.
He also charged that the database was simply a tool to help the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. Norway’s biggest pension fund, KLP, divested some $ 32 million from listed companies in 2021, citing both the “complicity” of some “in international law violations in occupied Palestine,” and that others helped make “the settlements attractive residential areas,” as it said in its statement on the decision.
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