Money

These Companies Are Profiting From the Israeli Occupation

Airbnb, General Mills, and TripAdvisor are among the companies being called out in a new report from the UN.

by Leila Ettachfini
Feb 12 2020, 7:00pm

The UN human rights office released a first-of-its kind database on Wednesday naming 112 companies involved in harmful business practices inside Occupied Palestine—a list that includes American companies like Airbnb, Expedia, and Trip Advisor.

The report lists companies engaging in one or more of 10 specific activities that raise human rights concerns in the West Bank. Six are American companies. Airbnb, Expedia, and Trip Advisor—as well as online travel company Booking Holdings—were included for providing services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport; General Mills, because of its use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes; and Motorola Solutions for supplying surveillance and identification equipment for settlements, the wall, and checkpoints.

The database is the result of a two-year investigation into “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” In 2018, before revealing any company names, the UN issued a progress report, which outlined both “how Israeli authorities encourage settlement businesses” and “how businesses contribute to and benefit from the establishment, maintenance and growth of settlements.”

Other activities that earned companies a spot on the list include: the supply of equipment and materials to facilitate the construction and the expansion of settlements and the wall; the supply of equipment for the demolition of housing and property, the destruction of agricultural farms, greenhouses, olive groves, and crops; and the dumping of waste inside Palestinian villages.

The Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement (BDS) said it views the report as a step forward, though it did refer to the UN’s list as “incomplete.” The movement has already called on its supporters to boycott the companies included.

“The publication of this database is a very significant first concrete step by any UN entity towards holding to account Israeli and international corporations that enable and profit from Israel’s illegal settlements, which constitute a war crime,” BDS wrote in a statement Wednesday morning. “It is now time for all public institutions [...] to stop contracting, procuring from or investing in the listed companies, to avoid complicity in Israel’s regime of military occupation and apartheid.”

The database, which mainly includes American, French, British, Dutch, and Israeli companies, will be updated annually. If a company in the database can prove that they have ceased their contribution to the activity listed alongside its name in the database, the UN will remove them.

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