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Israel, US race to block UN 'blacklist' over settlements

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon

Israel and the Trump administration are working feverishly to stop the publication of a UN blacklist featuring companies that operate in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land. 

The UN is only a few weeks away from the completion of its database by its top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, which is investigating the implications of the Israeli settlements on Palestinians.

"We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day," the Associated Press on Sunday quoted Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon as saying.

The database will mark a departure from the world body’s usual denunciation of the Israeli trampling on the rights of the Palestinians without any action, senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said.

The list is expected to seriously boost the international campaign, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which promotes boycotting of the enterprises directly or indirectly serving the settlements.

Danon said publishing the list would turn the Human Rights Council into "the world's biggest promoter of BDS."

About 100 Israeli firms and 50 international companies, having already received warnings, are said to be on the list. 

Israeli authorities usually ignore UN criticism but officials say they are taking the "blacklist" seriously because of the devastating economic consequences which it may have. 

Tel Aviv fears the database will drive companies away and deter others from trade in settlements, while prompting investors to dump shares of Israeli firms.

The AP quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying that the list includes Israeli banks, supermarkets, restaurant chains, bus lines and security firms, as well as international giants that provide equipment or services used to build or maintain settlements.   

So far, Israel has brushed off each and every of some 70 resolutions issued by the UN council where the regime's rights record is a regular itinerary for investigation.  

Tel Aviv's defiant line has all-out support of the United States. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said recently that the US viewed "that type of blacklist as counterproductive."

US Ambassador Nikki Haley railed against the rights council last June, demanding that Israel be removed as a permanent fixture on its agenda and threatening to withdraw Washington from the  panel. 

The administration of US President Donald Trump has taken a tough line against the UN, withdrawing from the cultural agency UNESCO in October after accusing it of anti-Israel bias.


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