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'Systematic injustice': UK companies with links to Israeli settlements complicit in war crimes

Around 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied Palestinian territories. [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 March, 2019

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British companies with business links to illegal Israeli settlements are complicit in human rights violations and may be committing war crimes.

British companies with business links to illegal Israeli settlements are complicit in human rights violations and may be committing war crimes, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The human rights group's new report, Think Twice: Can companies do business with the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories while respecting human rights?, was sent to all FTSE 100 and 250 companies warning them of being linked to gross rights violations.

Israel has built over 200 settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights since capturing and occupying the Palestinian and Syrian territories in 1967.

Around 400,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements, while a further 200,000 live in settlements in occupied east Jerusalem.

The Think Twice report comes ahead of the long-awaited publication of a UN database listing companies known to be operating in the settlements.

"Whether they're a funky digital-era outfit or a decades-old FTSE 100 giant, all companies need to understand there's no way to do business in or with Israel's settlements without contributing to human rights violations against the Palestinian people," Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK's Economic Affairs Programme Director, said.

There's a very clear bottom line here - any profits made by a company via the settlements come at the cost of systematically violating the rights of thousands of Palestinian people

"It's very simple - if you're a company operating in or doing business with the settlements, then you're involved in systematic injustice, discrimination and other human rights violations perpetrated by the state of Israel against Palestinians."

The involvement of foreign companies in Israel's settlement industry made headlines recently when online US travel company Airbnb announced it would withdraw listings for properties in illegal Israeli settlements.

The London-based rights group called on online giants Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor to stop listing tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in settlements in the occupied territories, including east Jerusalem.

Israel responded by threatening to ban Amnesty International from Israel.

Numerous other business sectors, including banking, law firms, construction companies and manufacturing business, are also heavily involved in the perpetuation of the Israeli settlement industry.

Amnesty says no company can do business in or with Israeli settlements in a way that is consistent with international law.

"There's a very clear bottom line here - any profits made by a company via the settlements come at the cost of systematically violating the rights of thousands of Palestinian people."

Amnesty called on governments to regulate the involvement of companies doing business with Israeli settlements and introduce laws banning the import of settlement goods.

Hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of settlement-produced goods are exported internationally each year.

Ireland is currently in the process of approving a landmark bill to prohibit trade in goods and services with settlements, and Amnesty has called on other countries to do likewise.

More than 50,000 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished and tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians displaced during Israel's decades-long occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

More than 2,000 square kilometres of Palestinian land has been illegally appropriated for Israeli settlers in the last 50 years.

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