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Breaking down the UNHRC blacklist



Breaking down the UNHRC blacklist

In the halls of the United Nations, they’re calling it a “database,” but it’s more commonly and accurately known as a “blacklist.” It’s a list of more than 100 companies conducting business activities with Jewish communities and Israeli enterprises in the West Bank that was published, a good four years after it was first mooted, by the U.N. Human Rights Council last Wednesday.

Given the litter of authoritarian states and theocracies that compose the UNHRC, as well as its notorious “Item 7”—an annual fixed agenda item that focuses the HRC on alleged Israeli misdeeds only—the eventual release of the blacklist has not come as a huge surprise. The justification for its existence expressed in the official report of Michele Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, is nevertheless worth a closer look.

The list comprises companies deemed by the UNHRC to be complicit in encouraging, building and maintaining “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.” There are 10 categories that the UNHRC uses to determine exactly how this complicity functions, so if you are conducting business with these Jewish communities, and you are engaged in “listed activities” in the construction, demolition, private security, banking, natural resource or transport sectors, chances are that you will be on the blacklist.

Theoretically, the blacklist is global in its ambition, with a mandate to examine “business enterprises, whether domiciled in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory or abroad, carrying out listed activities in relation to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” But when you break down the list of companies by country origin, two features stand out.

First, of the 112 companies blacklisted, 95 are Israeli. A plurality of the remaining 17 is American, with the remainder made up of Europeans and one Thai enterprise. Second, despite the 10 categories listed by the UNHRC as justification for inclusion on the blacklist, the vast majority of the companies included fall into only three of them. These are: “The provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport” (category E); “Banking and financial operations helping to develop, expand or maintain settlements and their activities, including loans for housing and the development of businesses” (category F); “The use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes” (category G).

Also read: US forces come under fire while on patrol in Syria

Instructively, two of the remaining categories were entirely absent from the blacklist.

No companies were found to have made “[U]se of benefits and reinvestments of enterprises owned totally or partially by settlers for developing, expanding and maintaining the settlements” (category J). Nor were there any companies responsible for the “[C]aptivity of the Palestinian financial and economic markets, as well as practices that disadvantage Palestinian enterprises, including through restrictions on movement, administrative and legal constraints (category I).”

The targets of the blacklist are judged to be guilty of fostering Israeli economic activity in the disputed territories, rather than the more specific offense of restricting or damaging the Palestinians’ own economy. Once more, then, the United Nations’ principal human-rights body has demonstrated that “solidarity” with the Palestinians does not mean the improvement of their daily lives through education, higher incomes and other benefits, but an institutional fixation with the physical presence of Israeli civilians in “occupied territories.”

The fact the overwhelming majority of the companies on the blacklist are Israeli indicates that there is a more sinister aim at work here. The only international institution in which the BDS movement to boycott Israel has any platform is the UN. The BDS campaign has always insisted that Israel be sanctioned in its entirety, in order to pave the way for the defeat of an occupation that began not in 1967, but in 1948, with the very creation of the Jewish state. The blacklist now being operated by the UNHRC is an approximation of that campaign. Its purpose is not to create a Palestinian state, or develop a Palestinian economy, but to poke at Israel’s very legitimacy by adopting the tactics of those who dispute Israel’s right to exist in the first place.

All that said, the publication of the blacklist fits very neatly with the present rejectionist spirit of Palestinian diplomacy. Indeed, the United Nations is the ideal vehicle for the Palestinians with its network of official solidarity committees, NGO conferences and internal propaganda departments that promote the Palestinian-refugee “right of return” to the 1948 territories. But then, that was always the case. The continued prominence of the world body as an advocate for the Palestinians only demonstrates how their cause has failed in other, more impactful forums. Because while the United Nations can sanction the official Palestinian narrative of dispossession and “Zionist” occupation and while it can lend a patina of credibility to the legal warfare faced by Israel on the international stage, it cannot deliver the Palestinians a better future.

As long as they remain the cause célèbre of the United Nations—and the United Nations alone—the Palestinian depiction of dialogue and negotiation as a form of betrayal will never be cast aside. Like the 1974 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism or the 2001 Durban anti-racism conference that rounded on Israel, the publication of the blacklist by the UNHRC amounts to an attack on Israel’s legitimacy that no other member state would be expected to tolerate. Some 75 years after the creation of this world body, the contention that the legal and moral right of the Jewish people to a sovereign existence is inferior when compared to every other nationality in the world continues to haunt its deliberations.




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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’



The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin



Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel



A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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