Ramy Levy sues UN Human Rights Council

Israeli supermarket and telecom magnate files defamation lawsuit against United Nations Human Rights Council over settlement blacklist.

Tags: Rami Levy
Hezki Baruch ,

Ramy Levy
Ramy Levy

Israeli supermarket magnate Rami Levy, who also owns the eponymous telecommunications company, is suing the United Nations Human Rights Council over the blacklisting of his companies for their operations in eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria.

In February, the UN Human Rights Council released its ‘settlement blacklist’, charging 112 companies which operate in eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria of violating international law, and in so doing harming the “civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.”

The blacklist, which covered 94 Israeli companies and 18 foreign companies, was aimed at pressuring the businesses to end their operations in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, and potentially lead to the boycotting of companies which maintain operations in those areas.

On Monday, the organization Shurat HaDin filed a 280,000 shekel ($82,192) lawsuit against the UN Human Rights Council, accusing the Council of defamation.

In the filing papers drafted by Shurat HaDin, Rami Levy argues that operating in Israeli areas of Judea and Samaria does not violate the rights of Palestinian Arabs; to the contrary it can be to their benefit.

“I believe in true coexistence,” said Rami Levy. “All of our employees at our stores are hired without distinction on the basis of religion, race, or nationality, in an equal fashion.”

“We’re happy to serve every customer, regardless of religion, race, or nationality, and we will continue to do so.”

The papers noted that the Rami Levy chain of supermarkets’ stores in Judea and Samaria employ both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, with equal rights. The wages and work conditions for the Palestinian Arab employees, the suit argues, are better at the Rami Levy stores than in comparable employment opportunities available for the workers at similar stores in the Palestinian Authority, with the average Palestinian Arab worker at Rami Levy stores earning three times the average salary among PA workers.

Shurat HaDin claims that despite the usual immunity provided to United Nations organizations, this case is exceptional, citing the UN Human Rights Council’s singling out of Jewish-owned businesses, while ignoring Israeli-Arab businesses which also operate in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria. Eleven Arab-owned Israeli companies operate in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, the suit noted.

Thus, Shurat HaDin argues, the blacklist violates the UN’s own charter, leaving the Human Rights Council without the immunity usually enjoyed by UN agencies.