The World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Wednesday condemned threats to blacklist 150 Israeli and international companies for doing business in “occupied Palestinian territories.”
The condemnation followed reports in Haaretz of a letter sent two weeks ago by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein warning the companies that they would be added to a database of businesses acting in violation of “international law and UN decisions.”
The letter also requested the companies clarify their business activities in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to the high commission.
“It is most unfortunate that an important U.N. body would blackmail global businesses into joining a hypocritical international boycott campaign against Israel,” WJC CEO Robert Singer said in a statement.
In a meeting between Singer and the high commissioner in November of 2016, Singer expressed his organization’s strong opposition to the compilation of such a database.
Since then, the statement noted, numerous senior WJC officials as well as members of the WJC’s Jewish Diplomatic Corps (JD Corps) have expressed the same views to many ambassadors to the UN Human Rights Council.
The UN Human Rights Council voted to approve the database of companies last year, despite objections from the United States and Israel. The Trump administration has been trying to persuade the UN not to publish the list.
Recent reports said that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley conveyed messages through diplomatic channels to senior UN officials to the effect that the U.S. will cut all funding to the UN Human Rights Council if the blacklist is published.
Palestinian Arab officials have urged the UN to publish the blacklist, saying that it is important to publish the names of companies, institutions and personalities that help the "colonialist settlement."
On Monday, the World Jewish Congress delivered a statement at the Human Rights Council calling on the Office of the High Commissioner to refrain from publishing the database.
“The World Jewish Congress reiterates its strong opposition to the publication of this shameful and counterproductive blacklist,” declared JD Corps member Caroline Lea Elbaze. “Such a database hinders the advancement of peace in the Middle East. Further, its adoption falls well beyond the mandate of the Council, opening the door to arbitrary boycott attempts.”
“This backlist is another example of the UN’s rampant bias and double standard against Israel. Another action serving only to single out Israel,” added Elbaze.
The Washington Post reported in August that among the American companies that received the letters from Al Hussein were Caterpillar, Priceline.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb. Israel's Channel 2 News reported two weeks ago that the list includes some of the biggest companies in Israel, such as Teva, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq, Elbit, Coca-Cola Israel, Africa-Israel, IDB, Egged, Mekorot and Netafim.