UN Releases report on business activities in Israeli settlements in Palestine that violate international law and human rights
[IPMN has uploaded a PDF version of the report online.]
UN Press Release:
GENEVA (12 February) – The UN Human Rights Office on Wednesday issued a report on business enterprises involved in certain activities relating to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in response to a specific request by the UN Human Rights Council, contained in a March 2016 resolution, that mandated the Office to produce a database of business enterprises involved in such activities.*
In an interim report (A/HRC/37/39) presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018 by the then High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN Human Rights Office noted it had reviewed information that was publicly available, or had been received from a variety of sources, about an initial 307 companies. After further research, the total number reviewed increased to 321. Of these, a total of 206 companies were considered for further assessment.
The report released on Wednesday sets out conclusions following further communications with business entities, as well as a thorough review and assessment of all information available. It identifies 112 business entities which the UN Human Rights Office, on the basis of the information it has gathered, has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in one or more of the specific activities referenced in Human Rights Council resolution 31/36.
Of the 112 business entities identified in the report, 94 are domiciled in Israel and 18 in six other States. During the complex process of drawing up the database, the Office consulted the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and held widespread discussions with numerous States, civil society organizations, think tanks, academics and others, as well as having extensive interactions with the companies themselves.
The report makes clear that the reference to these business entities is not, and does not purport to be, a judicial or quasi-judicial process. While the settlements as such are regarded as illegal under international law**, this report does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them. Any further steps with respect to the continuation of this mandate will be a matter for the Member States of the Human Rights Council, which will consider the report during the Council’s next session, beginning on 24 February.
“I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious,” said Michelle Bachelet, the current High Commissioner for Human Rights. “However, after an extensive and meticulous review process, we are satisfied this fact-based report reflects the serious consideration that has been given to this unprecedented and highly complex mandate, and that it responds appropriately to the Human Rights Council’s request contained in resolution 31/36,” Bachelet said.
Read this on UN human rights website.
* Human Rights Council resolution 31/36, adopted on 24 March 2016, requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce a report to follow up on the 2013 report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/22/63). The resolution defined the parameters of the current report by reference to ten specific activities listed in Paragraph 96 of the Fact-Finding Mission’s report. Human Rights Council resolution 31/36 was adopted with 32 States in favour, none against and 15 abstentions.
** Human Rights Council resolution 31/36 recalls reports of the UN Secretary-General, resolutions of the UN General Assembly and Security Council, an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and the opinions of several human rights bodies reaffirming the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem.
For UN Human Rights Council Website,
and to see the report on business activities
related to settlements in the "Occupied Palestinian Territory"
and scroll down to A/HRC/43/71.
Or click on here to download as a Word Doc.
THE PROBLEM OF BLAMING PRESBYTERIANS (or anyone else for that matter) WHEN THE MORAL BLINDSPOT IS YOUR OWN
Jesus once said: “Take the log out of your own eye then you can remove the splinter in your neighbor’s.”
By 1822 Presbyterian minister, the Rev. John Rankin, was known throughout his native Ohio to be a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves find freedom. Harriet Beecher Stowe once said of him: “Who abolished slavery? Reverend John Rankin and his sons did.”
The late Rev. Dr. Neal Kuyper, Presbyterian minister, and founder and director of the Presbyterian Counseling Service for 35 years in Seattle, Washington died at the age of 91 on Veteran’s Day two years ago. During World War II he was an Army medic and chaplain’s assistant, and by virtue of those roles, was permitted to go inside the concentration camp at Buchenwald immediately following its liberation, where he did his best to help holocaust prisoners as they lay dying of malnutrition and disease all around him. In his retirement, he spoke in Minnesota high school history classes and told the students what he saw with his own eyes. It was his commitment, in so doing, to make sure the next generation would never forget.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Plowshares, the student peace and justice organization at Princeton Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution, had raised enough concern in calling for the seminary to disinvest from companies doing business in South Africa that the President of the seminary and members of its Board of Trustees finally gave in and granted an audience to the group. Although it made for a lively discussion, Princeton Seminary never did divest from such holdings, but many of those students soon became ordained Presbyterian ministers. In a movement that was, for its day, as controversial as is the BDS movement of today, they became instrumental in getting the Presbyterian Church to divest from companies doing business in South Africa, and thus supporting the underpinnings of apartheid.
Upon their return from a typical church tour to Israel in 2003, the Rev. Dr. Glenn Dickson and members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, Florida where he served as pastor were so shocked at the demolition of Palestinian homes they witnessed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, they went right to work to submit an overture calling for divestment from Caterpillar, Inc. to the 216th General Assembly meeting of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This overture blew the lid off American Christian ignorance about occupation and made the denomination one of the global leaders in calling attention to the injustices committed against Palestinians by the Israeli government.
When Giulio Meotti accuses the Presbyterian Church (USA) of ugly slander (“US Church versus Israel” in Israel's Ynet News), he either knowingly or unknowingly mouths the propaganda of greater political powers than himself. As can be seen from the everyday, real-life witness of rank and file Presbyterians throughout the decades and even centuries, the Presbyterian witness for justice has been long and indisputable in the march of history. The fact that his (among that of others) sacred cow is being gored now suddenly, for him, makes the Presbyterian legacy of striving for human justice at all times and in all places as being something suspect.
Meotti cannot bring himself to speak truthfully about the present facts on the ground in Palestine while criticizing the Presbyterians for holding a symposium on land theology. His hysterical language regarding the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD) borders on incoherence. KPD deals with a harsh reality and does so with the voice of the leadership of the whole Body of Christ in Palestine. The document calls for non-violent resistance to occupation. Meotti ignores the fact that the alternative to non-violent resistance towards illegal occupation would be violent resistance, and yet this Christian document rejects violence in all its forms. Boycott, divestment and sanctions are time-honored tools for overcoming oppression in many places and situations throughout the world. Although, tragically, there was a time in history when the Nazis in Germany engaged in the racism of requiring wholesale boycott of the Jewish people, BDS is not that, not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it serves to accomplish the very opposite of that. Kairos Palestine’s call for BDS today is as if the Jews in 1930’s Germany had been able to rise up and boycott everything German in an effort to wake the world up regarding Nazi oppression and genocide. BDS is about resisting the oppressor, not the oppressed. Meotti’s argument essentially tells Palestinians that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t because Israel will not stop occupying the land and oppressing its people; that it will continue its illegal non-stop building of settlements on Palestinian land and there is nothing they can do about it.
The “security fence” to which Meotti refers is not a fence like neighbors have in their backyards. It is a system of concrete walls (with guard towers) and razor-wire fences hundreds of miles in length that run deep into Palestinian territory for the purpose of separating illegal Israeli settlements in apartheid manner, cutting off natural resources for Palestinian use, and dividing Palestinian communities in half. As Israeli Jeff Halper, Executive Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions points out: “You can’t explain security with the wall.” That’s because the wall is all about dividing the occupied territories into a system of isolated cantons or bantustans that make it impossible to ever say Palestine is or could be a nation unto itself.
One of the great slanders committed against Christians, in Palestine and those in the west committed to working towards a just peace in Israel Palestine, is the ongoing charge that by engaging in the very justice reflected in the words of the Hebrew Prophets, that they are engaged in anti-Jewish, and even anti-Semitic behavior. It needs to be stated clearly again and again and again that opposition to the oppressive policies of the Israeli government is just that: opposition to the behavior of a national entity and not racial hatred or the persecution of a religious people. This rhetoric is nothing more than a smoke screen to divert attention away from the blatant violation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As the real truth of anti-Semitism in the world became the excuse for bringing Nakba to Palestinian homes and villages in 1948, the charge of anti-Semitism leveled at those who oppose unjust policies in Palestine today continues to fuel and justify Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the land. Christians throughout the world who work for justice in Palestine have, working with them shoulder to shoulder, many Jewish peacemakers who are good friends and colleagues committed to this struggle.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) understands that security for Israel can only be accomplished by achieving a just peace in Palestine. Meotti’s charge that “Presbyterians have left behind the commitment ‘never again’ to ‘participate in, contribute to, or allow the persecution or the denigration of Jews’” is a calculated and disingenuous falsehood. What Presbyterians have and always will stand for is justice for all of God’s people wherever injustice reigns supreme. The fact that Meotti, the Israeli government and supporters of Israeli policy don’t see that means that who they call “friends” are only those who willingly turn a blind eye to the very kinds of oppression of which the Jewish people were once victims themselves. To not stand for the occupied in favor of the occupiers is indeed to be in league with Pharaoh and his henchman in any era of human history.