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Naming of companies doing business in Israeli settlements welcome, says Trócaire

13 February 2020

“This is a list which no responsible business that seeks to respect human rights should ever wish to appear on” said Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra.

A young Palestinian activist shows a sign saying 'Stolen Land' beside an illegal Israeli settlement. Photo : Garry Walsh / Trócaire.

After many years of campaigning from Trócaire and our partner organisations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a list of companies doing business connected to illegal Israeli settlements.

This is a significant step towards accountability and sends a clear message to businesses across the world that there are clear legal, moral and reputational risks in having business operations and investments connected with Israeli settlements.

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, and are a major obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. There are over half a million Israeli settlers now living in settlements built on Palestinian territory. As such, there is growing pressure on companies not to operate in Israeli settlements, or have any investments connected to them, which may be contributing to ongoing human rights violations.

“Trócaire welcomes the new UN database, which provides a comprehensive list of companies involved with settlements. This is a list which no responsible business that seeks to respect human rights should ever wish to appear on” said Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra in response to the announcement from the UN.

“I've visited the settlements myself and I've met Palestinian families who have had their homes demolished, or are unable to access their olive groves, as settlements expand on Palestinian land.  Businesses simply should not be complicit in these human rights violations and should not be profiting from injustice.”

The UN database publicly identifies 112 companies facilitating illegal Israeli settlements, including 94 which are based in Israel, and 18 in six other countries including the US, UK and the Netherlands. AirBnb is one company on the list which has their Headquarters for Europe, Middle East and North Africa located in Dublin.

The UN database has been released when relations between Israelis and Palestinians are at an all-time low, following the announcement of President Trump’s peace plan, which has been highly criticised as being one-sided and biased in favour of Israel.

New houses being constructed at the Israeli settlement of Eldad, south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. Settlements are illegal under international law, yet despite condemnation from the international community, continue to expand on Palestinian land. Photo : Garry Walsh

Shawan Jabarin, Director of Al-Haq, Trócaire’s local Palestinian partner, which has campaigned for many years for the database to be completed, has said that “adding and removing companies from the long-awaited database creates a necessary incentive and deterrent against engaging with Israel’s illegal settlement industry”.

Keeping the database updated will be key to ensuring it is effective. Shawan added that “it is critical to annually update the database to bring an end to corporate complicity in Israel’s prolonged occupation and widespread and systematic human rights abuses.”

In Ireland, the involvement of companies with settlements has become a prominent issue in recent years. Many political parties, including the two parties which gained the most seats in last week’s election, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, included commitments in their election manifestos to enact the Occupied Territories Bill. This bill would make it illegal in Ireland to sell goods from Israeli settlements.

“If we are to be serious about our commitments to human rights, our next government should be taking action to prevent Ireland from trading with Israeli settlements. Ending trade with settlements would be a practical measure that Ireland can take, and a moral action that would send a strong signal to Israel. We hope to see the 33rd Dáil pass the Occupied Territories Bill into legislation” said Caoimhe de Barra.

Learn more about the Occupied Territories Bill

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