U.S. pushing to quash U.N. “blacklist” of firms doing business in Israeli settlements

…Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the list would help the Palestinian “boycott, divestment and sanctions,” or BDS, campaign, which he says unfairly singles out Israel for economic punishment.

U.S. diplomats have argued that the Human Rights Council went beyond its mandate in ordering the list.

The panel has no power to levy sanctions or otherwise punish companies, but opponents of the list say it could put pressure on the U.N. Security Council to follow up.

The idea behind the list arose from efforts to target international businesses that did business with apartheid-era South Africa, and from Arab-led efforts to boycott Israel decades ago.

It is not clear how individual U.S. companies are being placed on the list. Affected firms appeared to be unaware of the list when contacted or did not respond to a request for comment.

In the case of travel-related firms such as TripAdvisor, it is also unclear whether their inclusion is the result of corporate activity inside settlements, such as advertising, or from inclusion of travel data about settlements on their websites.

“TripAdvisor can’t comment on a report it hasn’t seen,” company spokesman Brian Hoyt said. “We have not been contacted by the U.N. We continue to believe in the power of travel to bring cultures together around the world and are happy to discuss our position with the U.N. at any time.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the database “shameful” in remarks delivered in Geneva in June. She also said the United States is considering whether to remain a member of the Human Rights Council, which she said was biased against Israel and too forgiving of autocrats and dictators.

“Blacklisting companies without even looking at their employment practices or their contributions to local empowerment, but rather based entirely on their location in areas of conflict, is contrary to the laws of international trade and to any reasonable definition of human rights,” Haley said. “It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the anti-Semitic BDS movement. It must be rejected.”

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