The lives of ordinary Palestinians will be severely harmed if the UN Human Rights Council blacklists companies that do business in the West Bank, a report from NGO Monitor revealed on Thursday.
A major source of the list of companies the UNHRC may publicize soon, says the report, was Who Profits, a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace, a known left-wing Israeli organization.
At the root of the NGO Monitor report is the premise that Who Profits has not taken into account that its list, which filters into the UNHRC blacklist, will not just harm Israel, but also West Bank Palestinians and east Jerusalem Arabs.
According to NGO Monitor, the Who Profits list of Israeli and international businesses is a prominent tool for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaigns around the world.
The report said the blacklist’s publication has been delayed by two years partially due to NGO Monitor’s efforts at the UN, though Israel and various allies have been heavily engaged in pushing off the list’s publication.
But NGO Monitor says the list is finally expected to be published in advance of the March 2019 UNHRC session.
As a general point, the report says that, “Blacklisting companies... based on their adherence to mutually agreed upon and internationally brokered agreements – such as the Oslo Accords – fundamentally undermines the foundations of the international legal order.”
More specifically, regarding one Israeli company Who Profits recommends blacklisting (NGO Monitor’s report leaves out the companies’ names) it notes that, “The Palestinian Authority is [the company’s] largest customer, accounting for about 10% of its total revenues. In 2016, it supplied about 50% of the oil product and about 85% of the liquid petroleum gas” to the West Bank and Gaza.
NGO Monitor’s analysis notes that Annex IV of the Economic Protocol of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement between Israel and the PA “codifies the import of petroleum products and enables the PA to import gasoline from Jordan and/or Egypt if ‘they meet the average of the standards existing in the European Union countries, or the USA standards.’”
Further, NGO Monitor says that, “The PA signs contracts with Israeli companies to meet its oil and gas needs, including companies targeted by Who Profits.”
The bottom line is that the report says that if the blacklist goes out it could harm the PA’s access to oil and gas services.
There are other services where geographic closeness may not be a factor. But geographic proximity, such as between Israel and the PA, is always a factor for the cost of providing oil and gas services.
In Jerusalem, NGO Monitor says that even if Who Profits is targeting Israel, it effectively “advances a discriminatory policy that companies should withdraw their services and goods from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.”
The report says that if the blacklist goes into effect, Arabs in east Jerusalem “would be excluded from receiving basic goods and services in their neighborhoods, while an ethnic/religious test would be created to determine who can provide services.”
For example, NGO Monitor says Who Profits put a company on the blacklist because, “the Palestinian franchisee [of an international food company] is denied access to east Jerusalem, which therefore constitutes a captive market for the Israeli distributor.”
But the report says Who Profits “fails to disclose that the Israeli distributor and its Palestinian counterpart negotiated a distribution agreement in which the Israeli distributor serves areas under Israeli sovereignty” (including east Jerusalem) while “the Palestinian distributer is responsible for distribution in the West Bank and Gaza.”
In other words, if the Israeli distributor was blocked from providing food products to east Jerusalem, Arab residents “would be forced to travel to either other parts of the city or to the West Bank to purchase such products.”
What does Who Profits think of mutual Israeli-Palestinian agreements like the Oslo Accords?
NGO Monitor says Who Profits clearly states that these “mutual Israeli-Palestinian agreements, all of which related to the so-called ‘peace process’... de-facto maintained, through various means, the Israeli domination over the Palestinian economy.”
Who Profits also alleges that the Paris Protocol (1994), which sets economic relations between Palestinians and Israelis and was agreed to by both parties, represents “the most significant document for understanding the economy of the continued occupation,” and “neocolonialism.”
Moreover, NGO Monitor says Who Profits disregards “the importance of economic agreements and activity in overcoming distrust between Palestinians and Israelis.”
The report contends that, “There is no international legal prohibition on conducting business activities in conflict zones, occupied territories, or settlements. Such a rule would essentially ban all economic activity in these areas, and would condemn the residents to extreme poverty.”
NGO Monitor says Who Profits is primarily funded by the US-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) and European donors including the Church of Sweden, Trocaire (Ireland), CCFDTerre Solidaire (France), HEKS-EPER (Switzerland), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), Medico International (Germany), and Fagforbundet (Norway).
Who Profits had not responded to the NGO Monitor allegations at press time.
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