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UN reviews 206 companies over links to Israeli settlements

Published:Wednesday | January 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM

GENEVA (AP) The U.N. human rights office said yesterday that 206 companies mostly Israeli and American are facing a review of their business practices involving Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

In a long-awaited report, the office said more resources were needed to handle the complex and unprecedented task of compiling what some critics call an unfair "blacklist" and a sign of alleged anti-Israel bias at the UN.

Proponents insist that companies must be held accountable for their activities in the settlements, arguing that those actions can contribute to injustices against Palestinians.

The 16-page report does not cite companies by name, and says the rights office still has work to do.

The office said it had contacted 64 companies, but it would not identify until all 206 companies had been contacted and possibly not at all. Of those companies, 143 are based in Israel or the settlements, and 22 in the United States. Of the 19 other countries linked to such companies, Germany is home to seven and the Netherlands to five.

Ultimately, the rights office's review could lead to a public naming and shaming of companies for their activities linked to the settlements and give an UN imprimatur to efforts championed by the "BDS" movement (boycott, divest and sanction), which has been primarily a grassroots campaign to pressure Israel through action against companies.