Companies on UNHRC settler blacklist: We’re doing nothing wrong

"I am certain that we are not breaking any international law," AHAVA CEO Ron Michael told 'The Jerusalem Post.'

Ahava & BDS (photo credit: ARIK BAREL)
Ahava & BDS
(photo credit: ARIK BAREL)
Some of the companies that may be on the UN Human Rights Council’s blacklist for their business dealings over the pre-1967 armistice line have rejected the organization’s charge that they are violating international human rights laws.
The companies include Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, Motorola and Bezeq.
“I am certain that we are not breaking any international law,” Ahava CEO Ron Michael told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The head of the well-known cosmetics company that uses Dead Sea minerals spoke in advance of next month’s publication by the council of a database that is presumed will list upward of 150 companies from Israel and abroad.
The United States and Israel are working behind the scenes to sway the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, not to publish what they have dubbed the “blacklist.”
Zeid, a Hashemite prince and Jordanian diplomat, has sent warning letters to companies likely to appear on the list and has asked for their response. The Human Rights Council holds that such companies could be criminally complicit under international law.
While the proceedings and the contents of the list have not yet been published, names of the companies have been leaked to the media.
Michael noted that many of the companies have already been targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and their business dealings in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are well known.
“We got the letter. We are checking it out. It is not clear what the impact is,” he said.
While many of the company’s holdings are within Green Line Israel, it has a factory in the settlement of Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem near the Dead Sea.
The facility is dependent on proximity to the Dead Sea, Michael said.
He added that Ahava did not discriminate in its hiring practices and employed Palestinians and Israelis.
Motorola also confirmed to the Post that it had received a warning letter.
“As a well-respected and responsible corporate citizen, our global activities are conducted in accordance with US, local, country and other applicable laws, as well as our own code of business conduct,” Motorola said.
“Our company has a comprehensive set of policies and procedures that address human rights that are designed to ensure that our operations worldwide are conducted with the highest standards of integrity,” it added in an email correspondence.
Earlier this month, Bezeq CEO Stella Handler posted on Facebook that her company had received a warning letter. She added that Bezeq respects the rights of all citizens and that the blacklist was anti-Israel.
She removed the post at the Foreign Ministry’s request. It believes that the issue is best dealt with silently.
But on Thursday, Yediot Aharonot published the names of 25 Israeli companies it believes the Human Rights Council has targeted for its database.
The list also included Amisragas, Angel Bakeries, Arison Investments, Ashdar, Café Café, Clal Industries, Cellcom, Danya Cebus, Dor Alon, Electra, Hewlett Packard, HOT, Israel Aerospace Industries, Matrix Systems, Nesher, Partner, PAZ Gas, Rami Levy, Remax, Shikun & Binui, Shufersal, Bank Leumi and Sonol.
Café Café and Rami Levy said they had not received letters from the UN about the list. A spokeswoman for Rami Levy said she heard the firm was on it in a report on Army Radio.
Settler leaders immediately blasted the UN.
Efrat Council head and chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council Oded Revivi said, “I suggest that instead of boycotting the companies on the blacklist the UN should hand them Nobel Peace Prizes.
“These companies are the ones that employ and support thousands of Palestinian families,” Revivi said.
“Jews and Arabs are brought closer together in their factories where they work in the same building. Those who want to boycott these companies only distance coexistence, good neighbor relations and joint economic growth.”
The UN blacklist is not the first vehicle to target Israeli businesses over the pre-1967 lines. Two years ago the EU published guidelines to help its member states place consumer labels on settlement products stating that they were not made in Israel.
Israeli companies in the West Bank have countered by increasingly seeking markets outside of Europe, such as Russia and Asia.