UN reviews 206 companies over links to Israeli settlements

Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace in the region

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Wednesday that it was reviewing 206 companies over activities involving Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. The long-awaited report, which did not name the companies, was in response to a 2016 UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for a "database for all businesses engaged in specific activities related to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory". Israel's UN envoy Danny Danon strongly condemned the report, noting it was released "on the day that the UN is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day". "This is a shameful act, which will serve as a stain on the UNHRC forever," he said. "We will continue to act with our allies and use all the means at our disposal to stop the publication of this disgraceful blacklist." Published by the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the report said 143 of the companies are based in Israel or the settlements, 22 in the United States, seven in Germany, five in the Netherlands and four in France. The report had been meant to be released last March, but the deadline was pushed back to the end of 2017 due to limited resources and the scale of the job, with a presentation expected in March 2018. Only 64 of the companies have been contacted so far, the report said. "Once OHCHR has been in contact with all 206 companies... OHCHR expects to provide the names of the companies engaged in listed activities in a future update," it said. Israeli settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem in often confrontational proximity to nearly three million Palestinians.