Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with recommendations for constructing the database of settlement businesses that was mandated as part of a Human Rights Council Resolution adopted in Geneva in March this year.
The letter, sent by HRW’s Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director, Sari Bashi, to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,
High Commissioner at OHCHR, offers guidelines for interpreting the resolution, and also singles out three specific institutions for inclusion: Heidelberg Cement, RE/MAX, and FIFA.
As per the resolution, OHCHR is currently compiling a database of business enterprises involved in Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory and occupied Syrian Golan.
In their letter, HRW “outline[s] the kind of business activities that we believe meet three of the criteria outlined in the Resolution”, including:
“the provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport”;
“banking and financial operations helping to develop, expand or maintain settlements and their activities, including loans for housing and the development of businesses”;
“The use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes”.
HRW also “describe[s] the kind of institutions that, if found to engage in the above-stated activities, should be eligible to be listed in the database”, including non-profit organisations that have responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Finally, HRW names three institutions it recommends be included in the database.
The German multinational Heidelberg Cement, through its subsidiary, Hanson, owns a West Bank quarry for which it pays royalties to the Israeli occupation authorities and “municipal taxes to the settlement Samaria Regional Council.”
RE/MAX, meanwhile, “is a US-based international real-estate brokerage franchise” and the owner of the global franchise network. “Its Israeli franchise, RE/MAX Israel, has a branch in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim and markets or has marketed homes in at least 17 additional settlements.”
Finally, HRW also singles out FIFA for inclusion, a body which, through its affiliate, the Israel Football Association (IFA), “is organising matches in Israeli settlements in the West Bank on land that has been unlawfully seized from Palestinians.”
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