Washington says it told UN's human rights office not to update its blacklist of companies doing business in areas of Palestine occupied by Israel, arguing it "reinforces" anti-Israel bias.

Initial blacklist, that mentioned US companies including Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor, was denounced by the then administration of Donald Trump.
Initial blacklist, that mentioned US companies including Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor, was denounced by the then administration of Donald Trump. (Reuters Archive)

The United States has said it was pressing the United Nations not to update a blacklist of companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements, despite Washington's calls on its ally to stop expansion in occupied territories of Palestine.

The State Department confirmed on Friday that it had approached the UN human rights office with concerns about the list, whose first publication in 2020 infuriated Israel.

The United States "continues to oppose any work to update it" and has raised concerns "directly with the Office of the High Commissioner" for rights, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters.

"Our view is that this database only serves to reinforce an anti-Israel bias that too often finds traction in UN venues," he said.

"Also, this database poses a genuine threat to companies doing business or considering business operations in the region."

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Companies included in the list

The initial publication — which listed US companies including Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor — was denounced by the then administration of Donald Trump, which had reversed longstanding US opposition to illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a speech on Sunday, warned the incoming right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States would oppose settlement expansion as well as any bid to annex the West Bank.

Axios, quoting Israeli sources, said that the new UN rights chief, Volker Turk, faced an upcoming choice on whether to update the list and may do quietly without announcing it.

The UN report comes in response to a 2016 UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for a "database for all businesses engaged in specific activities related to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory."

After the list's publication, Airbnb said it would stop advertising in illegal settlements but it backtracked after a backlash in the United States and Israel.

In Norway, the list led the sovereign wealth fund to dump companies involved in illegal settlements, citing concern over human rights violations.

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Source: AFP