HRW calls on businesses to cease activities in israeli settlements
Human Rights Watch has called on companies to end their businesses in illegal Israeli settlements and not to facilitate Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law.
The New York-based group said in a report released on Tuesday that businesses should stop operating in, financing, servicing, or trading with settlement-related “activities that contribute to and benefit from an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians.”
HRW documented how settlement businesses facilitate the growth and operations of settlements in the 162-page report, titled “Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights.”
The report stressed that such businesses play a critical role in establishing and expanding settlements and encourage the Israeli authorities’ unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources.
“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources,” said Arvind Ganesan, the director of the business and human rights division of HRW.
“The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with and in Israeli settlements,” he said.
Settlement manufacturers and agricultural producers export much of their goods, often wrongly labeling them as made in Israel, the rights group said.
HRW urged the countries that import Israeli products to ensure that any import of settlement goods into their territory is consistent with their duty under international humanitarian law not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories.
This includes prohibiting such goods from being labeled as made in Israel and excluding them from preferential tariff treatment for Israeli products.
According to the report, more than a half million Israelis live in 237 settlements throughout the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including in East al-Quds.
The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids construction on occupied lands.