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UN names companies complicit in Israeli settlements

International companies have “enabled" and "profited from" illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, according to the UN. 

More than 29,000 people have been killed by the Israeli state’s brutal siege on the Palestinian territory of Gaza since October 2023, with around two million more displaced. 

In July 2023, the UN named almost 100 companies that are involved in Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories that are considered illegal under international law. 

Which companies are involved? 

The 97 companies named include Airbnb and Three UK-based businesses appear on the list. 

The report was an update of the UN’s 2020 publication, which named 112 complicit companies. The UN said it had not reviewed evidence for new additions to the 2023, stating that it had only had capacity to review current entrants. 

“Business enterprises have, directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements,” according to the 2020 report.

Expedia and TripAdvisor were both also included in the 2023 list. Amnesty International previously found that Expedia, Trip Advisor, Airbnb and Bookings Holdings (owner of were profiting from Israeli settlements through the travel services they were providing there, in a 2019 report. 

The list also included UK-based company JCB, which provides machinery industries including agriculture and building. JCB has been criticised for the use of its tractors in the demolition of Palestinian homes.

The other two UK companies listed are Greenkote PLC, a company that produces metal coatings, and travel bookings company, Opodo Ltd. 

Greenkote is involved as a “licensor or franchisor” for a company benefiting from the use of “natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes”, according to the report. Opodo is said to be involved in the “provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport.”

Companies that have withdrawn from settlements

General Mills was one of only two international companies to be removed from the updated list, alongside a number of Israeli firms. 

The food conglomerate, which owns the Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs and brands, has previously been criticised for using land and water from Palestinian territories for its products. In June 2022 General Mills withdrew from settlements, read more on our list of successful boycotts.

It’s possible that more companies than those listed in the report are connected to the settlements, but the UN says it lacks capacity to review this.

Illegal settlements

Settlements are communities established by Israel on land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying state from moving its own civilians into the territory it occupies. 

Establishing settlements often involves Israeli citizens moving into empty land or moving directly into Palestinian property which residents are forced to vacate, breaking the Convention. The UN continues to state that Israeli settlements in the OPT are in breach of international law.

Around 10% of Israel’s population now live in 150 settlements and 128 outposts.

According to the campaign group Jewish Voice for Peace, “To establish these settlements, the Israeli settler movement and its institutions have used a combination of discriminatory laws, Israeli military decrees, surveillance, and outright violence, often by private individuals with the backing of the Israeli military.”

In November, Al Jazeera reported, “Since Israel unleashed its brutal bombing campaign in Gaza on October 7 in the wake of a deadly Hamas attack, settler attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have more than doubled from an average of three to eight incidents a day, according to the United Nations.”

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