Israeli businesses accused of supporting rights abuses

Human Rights Watch report says Israeli businesses support and benefit from ‘two-tier’ system in West Bank

Israeli businesses accused of supporting rights abuses

World Bulletin / News Desk

Israeli businesses operating in the occupied West Bank drive human rights violations by helping to fund, serve and build illegal settlements, according rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In a report released Tuesday, HRW called on Israeli businesses to stop engaging with settlements “to comply with their own human rights responsibilities.” Israeli businesses benefit from a “two-tier” system that applies military law to Palestinians in the West Bank, but not to Israelis.

“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,” Arvind Ganesan, HRW's director of the business and human rights division, said in a statement. 

The report said Israeli businesses have a larger impact on the West Bank than the actual settlements, operating in around 20 industrial zones that heavily use natural resources like land, water and minerals, diverting them from Palestinians in the West Bank. 

“The bottom line is no settlement business should be operating and profiting from land and resources illegally taken from the Palestinian people,” said Ganesan.

The HRW report also cited the World Bank's estimation that the Palestinian economy lost $3.4 billion annually due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian businesses in parts of the West Bank under Israeli control as part of the 1993 Oslo accords. 

A 2011 report by the Palestinian economy ministry estimated that the Palestinian economy loses a total of $7 billion through restrictions on businesses, workers and trade as a result of the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahson said that "Israel is concerned with this one-sided, politicized report" and claimed that Israeli settlements provide employment for Palestinian workers.

According to the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, there are at least 600 Israeli-owned factories in the West Bank employing 6,000 Palestinian workers.

Both Palestinian officials and rights groups have rejected claims that Palestinians rely on settlements for employment, arguing that Palestinian businesses could offer more opportunities if they were not hampered by Israeli settlements. 

Last year, Israel reacted angrily to EU guidelines on specifically labeling goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, claiming it would bar the EU from participating in any peace talks between Israel and Palestine. 

The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, taking almost a third of all Israeli exports in 2014 according to EU figures, but Israel claimed that the decision to label settlement products was motivated by campaigns to boycott Israeli businesses.

Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2016, 09:19
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