Feb. 13 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday lashed out at the United Nations Human Rights Office over a report published earlier this week listing businesses operating in occupied Palestinian territory, accusing the organization of “unrelenting anti-Israel bias.”
On Wednesday, the U.N. office, headed by High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, published a report identifying 112 business entities including 94 Israeli companies and 18 in six other nations operating in the West Bank. Six U.S.-based companies, with the majority related to tourism, were listed in the report.
The report was compiled under a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution adopted in 2016 to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the rights of the Palestinian people.
According to a statement from the U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, the report is not the result of a judicial process and while the settlements are largely regarded as illegal under international law, it does not provide a legal description of the activities the business are doing.
In his Thursday statement, Pompeo said he was “outraged” at Bachelet for publishing the list.
“The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database, which was mandated by the discredited U.N. Human Rights Council in 2016,” he said. “Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations. The United States has not provided, and will never provide, any information to the Office of the High Commissioner to support compilation of these lists and expresses support for U.S. companies referenced.”
Pompeo’s condemnation followed Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz accusing the United Nations of publishing a “blacklist” for targeted boycotts after kneeling under the pressure of countries looking to harm the Middle Eastern nation.
In his strongly worded statement, Katz accused the U.N. Human Rights Office of pursuing an anti-Israel stance and that instead of fostering human rights it serves to “protect some of the most discriminatory regimes in the world.”
“The commissioner wasted an opportunity to preserve the dignity of the U.N. and salvage what was left of the council and Commission’s integrity,” he said. “This decision will have serious implications for our future relations with the Council and the commissioner.”
Human rights advocates, on the other hand, welcomed the report as a “major breakthrough” to hold business accountable.
The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said the settlements undermine the livelihoods and economy of Palestinians and business activities in those areas contribute to their deepening entrenchment.
“The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of wars,” said Bruno Stagno, deputy executive director for advocacy at Human Rights Watch. “The database release marks critical progress in the global effort to ensure that businesses end their complicity in rights abuses and respect international law.”
The list, he said, underscores the international community’s rejection of Israeli and U.S. efforts to “legitimize Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise and to whitewash the resulting human rights abuses.”