Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the United Nations high commissioner for human rights Thursday after a report released a list of more than 100 companies that are allegedly complicit in violating the human rights of Palestinians through conducting business with Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
“I am outraged that High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet published a database of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territories,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement.
The list’s release comes amid a standoff between the Israeli government and the international community over Israel’s long-standing policy of allowing settlements to be established in the Israeli-occupied territory — which the International Criminal Court has threatened to launch a war-crimes investigation into.
The report did not allege any of the companies mentioned had violated international law, but the release marked a new push to apply pressure on the companies to cut ties with Israel’s policy.
The OHCHR said in a statement upon publication of the report that it “makes clear that the reference to these business entities is not, and does not purport to be, a judicial or quasi-judicial process.”
“While the settlements as such are regarded as illegal under international law, this report does not provide a legal characterisation of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them,” the OHCHR added.
Several notable U.S.-based companies were mentioned in the list including Motorola, General Mills, Trip Advisor, Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com.
“[The list’s publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations,” Mr. Pompeo said, adding that the U.S. has long opposed the creation or release of the database.
The report was mandated under a 2016 directive for the U.N. to gather a list of companies who are doing business in the Israeli-controlled territory and to investigate how they impact the “civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights” of Palestinians.
Ms. Bachelet said in a statement following the report’s publication that she is “conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious,” adding that the release is in light with the 2016 action.
According to the BBC, Palestinians called the report a “victory for international law,” while Israelis argued it is “shameful.”
Mr. Pompeo said the U.S. had not provided any information of the American companies to contribute to the report’s creation and called on fellow U.N. members to object to the list’s release.
“Attempts to isolate Israel run counter to all of our efforts to build conditions conducive to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that lead to a comprehensive and enduring peace,” he said.
U.S. lawmakers have joined Mr. Pompeo’s outrage including the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“It is unacceptable that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has released this incredibly biased report which is in direct support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement against our close ally Israel,” said Sen. James Risch, Idaho Republican, in a statement.
He claimed the move to publish the report “is a political move made by the high commissioner.”
• This story is based in part on wire reports.
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