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Why the UN’s Settlement Database Doesn’t Go Far Enough

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The UN Human Rights Council reconvened this week to discuss world affairs, including its recently released database of businesses involved in Israeli settlements. The database was lauded by Palestinian civil society and the human rights community at large when it was published earlier this month. At the same time, it has been condemned by the governments of Israel and the United States, who had exerted tremendous pressure to suppress its publication. Last Friday, Kahol Lavan’s Yoaz Hendel denounced the list as an “ethical stain” on the United Nations, reminding Israeli voters that not even the leading opposition party will stop the de facto annexation of the West Bank from becoming permanent.

Yet these polarized responses obscure an important reality: The 112 companies listed are merely the tip of the iceberg of corporate complicity in the occupation.

The report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights comes on the heels of decades of efforts to curb Israeli settlements, whose expansion continues despite patently violating international law and the well-documented cascade of human rights violations they cause.

Similar UN reports were previously released documenting corporate complicity in systematic human rights violations in Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo – all based on the principle that business actors, working alongside governments, must be held accountable nowadays when they violate international law.

The first step to stopping illegal behavior is to identify the perpetrators and their corporate accomplices. Yet, the criteria........

© Haaretz