Firms Tied to Settlements May Face Charges

Falk: Firms tied to settlements may face charges

10/25/2012 22:47

Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard among businesses that UN expert says should be boycotted because they profit from settlements.

Caterpillar among targets for divestmentPhoto: REUTERS

UN special investigator Richard Falk has warned that international businesses  operating in West Bank settlements may face criminal and civil liability under  international law.

This also extends to employees of the businesses in  question, he told the United Nations in New York on Thursday, when he spoke at  the 24th meeting of a UN General Assembly human rights group – formally called  the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee.

Falk also submitted a  report to that effect to the General Assembly.

He called on it to  considering asking the International Court of Justice at the Hague, which has  already advised that Israel is in occupation of the West Bank, to issue an  opinion on the liability of businesses that benefit economically from  settlements.

Falk further asked the international community to do more to  stop West Bank settlements, including boycotting international businesses which  operate there.

“My main recommendation is that the businesses highlighted  in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the  Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted, until they bring their  operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and  standards,” Falk said.

“In short, businesses should not breach  international humanitarian law provisions.

Nor should they be complicit  in any breaches. If they do, they may be subject to criminal or civil liability.  And this liability can be extended to individual employees of such businesses,” Falk said.

Among those businesses which he highlighted in the report  were, Caterpillar Inc. (US); Veolia Environnement (France); G4S (UK);  Dexia Group (Belgium); Ahava (Israel); the Volvo Group (Sweden); the Riwal  Holding Group (Netherlands); Elbit Systems (Israel); Hewlett Packard (US);  Mehadrin (Israel); Motorola (US); Assa Abloy (Sweden); and Cemex  (Mexico).

The United States Ambassador to the UN in New York, Susan Rice,  condemned Falk’s report and said his boycott call was “irresponsible and  unacceptable.”

“Throughout his tenure as special rapporteur, Mr. Falk has  been highly biased and made offensive statements, including outrageous comments  on the 9/11 attacks,” Rice said.

“Mr. Falk’s recommendations do nothing  to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and indeed  poison the environment for peace. His continued service in the role of a UN  Special Rapporteur is deeply regrettable and only damages the credibility of the  UN,” she said.

Caterpillar said, in a statement, that Falk’s report was  inaccurate and misleading and “reflects his personal and negative opinions  toward Israel.”

The company said it sells products to the US government,  which are then sent to Israel.

Hewlett Packard said Falk was “far from an  independent and unbiased expert in this matter,” and that the company has a  strong human rights policy and complies with the highest standards in every  market in which it operates.

Motorola and Volvo were not immediately  available for comment.

Falk has long been a controversial figure. In 2011  he wrote on his blog that there had been an “apparent coverup” by US authorities  over the September 11, 2001 attacks and he also posted an anti-Semitic cartoon,  which was later removed.

He was appointed in 2008 by the Geneva-based UN  Human Rights Council as the special investigator on the situation of human  rights in the Palestinian territories.

Israel has barred Falk from  entering the country, including the West Bank.

Reuters contributed to  this report.

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2 Responses to Firms Tied to Settlements May Face Charges

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