Palestinians welcome release of UN settlement list

– Palestinian officials say they will seek justice against companies for their participation in human rights violations

By Gulsen Topcu, Safiye Karabacak and Hatice Baser

GAZA/RAMALLAH, Palestine /ISTANBUL (AA) – Palestinians welcomed the long-awaited release by the UN of a list that names and shames 100 companies that operate in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Publishing the names of the companies is a crucial first step in rejecting attempts to legalize the settlements, said Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in a statement.

He said they will pursue the companies listed in the report through international legal institutions and courts in their countries for their role in violating human rights.

“We will demand compensation from them for illegally using our occupied lands without submitting to Palestinian laws and paying taxes,” he added.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said this is a victory for diplomatic efforts and justice.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said “this step should lead other companies to disagree with human rights abuses in occupied Palestine.”

“We welcome this right step to isolate Israel,” Palestinian resistance group Hamas said in a statement.

It added that the UN must take legal measures and the international community must take concrete steps to defend the rights of Palestinians.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried the UN's move.

“Those who boycott us, will be boycotted,” he said on Twitter.

The list, compiled by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, featured mostly Israeli companies, though some are headquartered in the U.S., France, Britain, the Netherlands and Thailand.

Among the international companies were travel firms TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Booking.com as well as tech producer Motorola, consumer food maker General Mills and infrastructure companies like JC Bamford Excavators and Egis Rail.

The companies engaged in activities that “raised particular human rights concerns,” according to the UN report, which was released after years of delays that have been attributed to extensive lobbying by the U.S. and Israel.

*Writing by Davut Demircan