Omar Shakir, J.D., M.A. works as the Israel and Palestine Director for Human Rights Watch. He investigates a variety of human rights abuses within the occupied Palestinian territories/Occupied Palestinian Territories or oPt/OPT (Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem) and Israel. He earned a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University, an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Affairs, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. He is bilingual in Arabic and English. Previously, he was a Bertha Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights with a focus on U.S. counterterrorism policies, which included legal representation of Guantanamo detainees. He was the Arthur R. and Barbara D. Finberg Fellow (2013-2014) for Human Rights Watch with investigations, during this time, into the human rights violations in Egypt, e.g., the Rab’a massacre, which is one of the largest killings of protestors in a single day ever. Also, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Syria.
Here we continue with the 5th part in our series of conversations with coverage on regular updates, the American context for the Israelis and the ongoing human rights issues, the release of the American peace plan, the reactions of the international community, the release of the U.N. Database of Settlement Companies, and some clarification on claims about relations between HRW and Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya. As a note, Shakir’s work permit revoked based on the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court in late 2019 (Krauss, 2019). One can see similar actions with travel bans, ongoing, against others, including Amnesty International staff member Laith Abu Zeyad (Amnesty International, 2019a; Zeyad, 2019; Amnesty International, 2020). Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were subject to being barred from entry (Romo, 2019). Dr. Noam Chomsky was denied entry, previously (Hass, 2010). Dr. Norman Finkelstein was deported in the past (Silverstein, 2008). With the deportation of Shakir based on the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court, Shakir, for this session, works from Amman, Jordan.
*Interview conducted on February 17, 2020.*
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In the previous session, Session 4, we covered some of the feedback and responses coming my way (Jacobsen, 2020a; Jacobsen, 2020b). However, I can see some of these coming probably to others covering similar human rights abuses and violations of international law [Ed. Shakir noted, in “Human Rights Watch (Israel and Palestine) on Common Rights and Law Violations,” the following, “It is a similar pattern everywhere. Israel-Palestine, we have seen the same dynamic. The Israeli government says that we are biased against them. When we released reports, as we have done for more than two decades, on arbitrary arrests by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, or the unlawful use of force by them, we are accused… of being part of an agenda of Israel and the United States to undermine them. Even in the last year, we have seen accusations from both Israelis and Palestinians” (Jacobsen, 2019)]. Now, people can reference that if any concerns regarding some of these secondary concerns. For February 17th, what are some updates on the Israeli side? And then we can move into some other questions, basically, in a logical progression here.
Omar Shakir: Sure, I think, the most significant newsworthy development has been the release of Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and reactions for what it might mean in terms of the human rights situation on the ground affecting Israelis and Palestinians (White House Staff, 2020; Heller & Lee, 2020; Daraghmeh & Akram, 2020). That plan unveiled in late January (White House Staff, 2020). Of course, it elicited a wide range of responses in the international community. And, of course, within Israel and Palestine, that in conjunction with statements made by the Palestinian Authority, as well as the build up to the Israeli election, has been among the more significant developments (Krauss, & Daraghmeh, 2020). Obviously, while these are political considerations, the ramifications for human rights are rather significant (Jacobsen, 2020b).
Jacobsen: Has the American context for relations with Israel, basically, since the inception of this particular human rights issue (Ibid.) been central to human rights issues down the line, whether indirectly or directly in other words?
Shakir: Sure, Americans for much of the past quarter century have played a leading role in negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The United States has never been an honest broker. It has always taken the Israeli side and frequently turned a blind eye to its human rights abuses or would underplay their prominence (Jacobsen, 2020b). Under this U.S. Administration, we have seen a shift in the United States, as it has greenlighted and, in some cases, is complicit in Israeli human rights abuses on the ground (Lederer & Sanminiatelli, 2019). This plan, while departing from U.S. positions on a number of issues, lays bare what the peace process has become: a fig leaf for Israel’s discriminatory rule over Palestinians from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea (White House Staff, 2020; Lederer & Sanminiatelli, 2019). There are many possible paths to peace that ensure a better future for Israelis and Palestinians, but none that are not rooted in the dignity and rights of those on the receiving end of any peace deal (Jacobsen, 2020b).
Jacobsen: When this was released on the 28th of January, no Palestinian representatives were present (Heller & Lee, 2020). However, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was present in terms of a press conference with President Donald Trump (Ibid.). Is this in line with the obvious message being sent?
Shakir: Of course, the United States government under the Trump Administration has taken a series of steps that are intended or have the effect of utterly decimating organized Palestinian politics, and the institutions that work on issues related to Palestinians, as well as the issues themselves, but it goes beyond the optics of having only one side present (Lederer & Sanminiatelli, 2019). I think this plan takes the status quo, which is a reality that can be characterized by institutional discrimination, systemic repression of Palestinians, and serious human rights abuses, and calls it its final solution (Human Rights Watch, 2019a; Human Rights Watch, 2019b). It strives to make permanent a one-state reality in which 14 or so million people, about half of whom are Israeli or Palestinian, live in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea with Palestinians treated unequally. This would make permanent this reality and facilitate Israeli annexation of the West Bank and allow it to, in essence, maintain full domination and control over Palestinians and its abusive system of control over them (The Associated Press, 2020a; Krauss & Daraghmeh, 2020).
Jacobsen: How are American allies reacting to the release of this? Is it complacency or explicit support in many cases?
Shakir: There has, of course, been a mixed response in the international community (Daraghmeh & Akram, 2020). I think, on one hand, there is a desire by many states for a political process in a context where for a number of years in which there has been little movement. I also think there has been a widespread rejection of the way in which this proposal undermines international law (Lederer & Sanminiatelli, 2019; Daraghmeh & Akram, 2020). Of course, any process should be open to different and new ideas, but this proposal does nothing more than entrench an abusive, discriminatory status quo. But I think you have seen some interesting developments. You have seen a rejection of the plan by significant blocs of states, including the European Union (Emmott, 2020), the League of Arab States (Fahmy, el-Din, & Laessing, 2020), the Organization of Islamic Conferences (Kalin & Abdullah, 2020), among others. You have also seen the European Union and some states in Europe make clear that any future resolution should be rooted in the equal rights of all people (United Nations, 1948; Jacobsen, 2020b), which, while a straightforward notion, has not been the sort of language and framing that has been used in this context. I think it underlies the basic reality that Israel cannot continue to use the logic of occupation to justify the mass suspension of basic Palestinian rights (Jacobsen, 2020b). There have been some states (Daraghmeh & Akram, 2020) that have reacted more positively to this initiative, but, at the same time, I think the overall trend has been a rejection of the attempt to liquidate core rights for Palestinians (Human Rights Watch, 2019a; Human Rights Watch, 2019b; Jacobsen, 2020b).
Jacobsen: How are the conversations taking place over time since the 28th in the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank?
Shakir: Look, I think for many Palestinians this plan is nothing new. [Laughing] It is the reality that they have lived under for more than half of a century of ugly occupation characterized by entrenched discrimination and serious rights abuse (Human Rights Watch, 2019a; Jacobsen, 2020b). Polling data indicates that 90%+ of Palestinians reject the plan (The Associated Press, 2020b). There have, certainly, been demonstrations and uses of force by Israeli security forces against demonstrators (Daraghmeh & Akram, 2020; Goldenberg, 2020). There have also been more violent attacks by Palestinians against Israeli security forces and civilians (Akram, 2020; Krauss, 2020a; Krauss, 2020b; The Associated Press, 2020c). We have seen a range of different reactions (Lederer & Sanminiatelli, 2019; Krauss & Daraghmeh, 2020; Daraghmeh & Akram, 2020; Heller & Lee, 2020). I think Palestinians understand this plan for what it is: an attempt to make permanent the discriminatory status quo (The Associated Press, 2020b).
Jacobsen: The U.N. also recently released a list of companies, 112 [Ed. Countries with companies on the listing (number of companies in parentheses per country): France (3), Israel (94), Luxembourg (1), Netherlands (4), Thailand (1), United Kingdom (3), United States of America (6) (U.N. Human Rights Council, 2020).], who are doing business on Israeli settlements in the West Bank (Nebehay, 2020; Federman, 2020; Federman & Keaten, 2020). What does this mean for this similar discourse of rights violations through the annexation of land? What are the particular types of rights violations in this reportage?
Shakir: The long-awaited release of the U.N. Database of Settlement Companies should really put companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes (U.N. Human Rights Council, 2020). Companies have hid for too long behind the idea of these issues as too controversial or complex as a way to excuse their direct contribution to rights abuses. The underlying reality is that settlements are not only a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime (Diplomatic Conference of Geneva, 1949; Amnesty International, 2019b). They also entail systematic abuses to the rights of Palestinians. Settlements are built on land confiscated, stolen, from Palestinians (Amnesty International, 2019b). In order to maintain the settlement enterprise, Israel has erected a two-tiered discriminatory system in the West Bank that treats Palestinians separately and unequally (Human Rights Watch, 2010). Companies that do business in settlements not only further entrench the illegal settlement enterprise, but they actually profit from the theft of Palestinian land and contribute to the further dispossession of Palestinians. I think the release of this database is an important step towards ensuring transparency around these activities, but also towards protecting human rights, not only of Palestinians, but setting a precedent that can be used in other contexts to improve the standards around business and human rights.
Jacobsen: Is there a project ongoing with the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (2020a)? Is there a partnership between HRW and IDC Herzliya in terms of a rule of law project called “Reconnect” (Cronin, 2020)?
Shakir: No, there isn’t. The RECONNECT project is a multidisciplinary research project focusing on rule of law in Europe (2020b). It involves several universities and academic institutions. The international advisory board, on which one Human Rights Watch staff member serves in her private capacity, is solely linked to the RECONNECT project (IDC Herzliya, 2020c), and it does not involve any dealings with the individual academic institutions and their individual programs, curricular, research etc.
Jacobsen: Have there been any force or military engagements in the last month as well?
Shakir: There have been, of course, in the aftermath of the U.S. plan. There have been demonstrations. There have been instances, certainly, of Israel in keeping with its practice of apparently using excessive force and policing operations in East Jerusalem and along the fences separating Gaza and the West Bank. Those practices, certainly, have continued. There have also been instances in emanating from Gaza and the West Bank of Palestinians using violence that affected civilians. So, those have continued in line with the practices that have been documented before.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Omar.
Shakir: Bye now.
Akram, F. (2020, January 21). Israeli army kills 3 Palestinians after attack at Gaza fence. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/dc0239c088f22d3f5a6639b171a3f181.
Amnesty International. (2019b, January). Chapter 3: Israeli Settlements and International Law. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2019/01/chapter-3-israeli-settlements-and-international-law/.
Amnesty International. (2019a, October 31). Israel/ OPT: Amnesty staff member faces punitive travel ban for human rights work. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/israel-opt-amnesty-staff-member-faces-punitive-travel-ban-for-human-rights-work/.
Amnesty International. (2020, March 25). ISRAEL/ OPT: End cruel travel ban on Amnesty staff member. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/03/israel-opt-end-cruel-travel-ban-on-amnesty-staff-member/.
Cronin, D. (2020, January 27). Why has Human Rights Watch teamed up with Israeli warmongers?. Retrieved from https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david-cronin/why-has-human-rights-watch-teamed-israeli-warmongers.
Daraghmeh, M. & Akram, F. (2020, January 28). Palestinians angrily reject Trump Mideast peace plan. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/0dcb0179faf41e1870f35838058f4d18.
Emmott, R. (2020, February 4). EU rejects Trump Middle East peace plan, annexation. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-eu/eu-rejects-trump-middle-east-peace-plan-annexation-idUSKBN1ZY1I9.
Fahmy, O. el-Din, M.S., & Laessing, U. (2020, February 1). Arab League rejects Trump’s Middle East plan: communique. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-arabs/arab-league-rejects-trumps-middle-east-plan-communique-idUSKBN1ZV3QV.
Federman, J. (2020, February 13). Pompeo ‘outraged’ by UN list of firms with settlement ties. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/c0ec6c0a8ebb1b68b4d233a894634b51.
Federman, J. & Keaten, J. (2020, February 12). UN list targets firms linked to Israeli settlements. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/5c4eb3c4dd04a1ea0880dd735ebb0544.
Goldenberg, T. (2020, February 6). Mideast violence flares as anger mounts over Trump plan. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/c3ce0c94b262b60fe3fc0ce317450aa1.
Hass, A. (2010, May 16). Noam Chomsky Denied Entry Into Israel and West Bank. Retrieved from https://www.haaretz.com/1.5121279.
Heller, A. & Lee, M. (2020, January 28). Retrieved from https://apnews.com/f7d36b9023309ce4b1e423b02abf52c6.
Holland, S., Williams, D., & Mohammed, A. (2020, January 28). Trump leaps into Middle East fray with peace plan that Palestinians denounce. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-plan/trump-leaps-into-middle-east-fray-with-peace-plan-that-palestinians-denounce-idUSKBN1ZR1SR.
Human Rights Watch. (2019a). Born Without Civil Rights: Israel’s Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/palestine1219_web_0.p.
Human Rights Watch. (2019b). Israel and Palestine. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/israel/palestine.
Human Rights Watch. (2010, December 19). Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/report/2010/12/19/separate-and-unequal/israels-discriminatory-treatment-palestinians-occupied.
IDC Herzliya. (2020a). About IDC. Retrieved from https://www.idc.ac.il/en/pages/home.aspx.
IDC Herzliya. (2020c). International Advisory Board: Lotte Leicht. Retrieved from https://reconnect-europe.eu/project-info/iab/.
IDC Herzliya. (2020b). RECONNECT: Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya. Retrieved from https://reconnect-europe.eu/partners/idc/.
International Committee of the Red Cross (Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949). (1949, August 12). Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. Retrieved from https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Treaty.xsp?documentId=AE2D398352C5B028C12563CD002D6B5C&action=openDocument.
Jacobsen, S.D. (2020a, March 20). Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 4 – Uninhabitable: The Viability of Gaza Strip’s 2020 Unlivability. Retrieved from https://www.canadianatheist.com/2020/03/ask-hrw-israel-and-palestine-4-jacobsen/.
Jacobsen, S.D. (2020b, March 20). Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) Addendum: Some History and Contextualization of Rights. Retrieved from https://www.canadianatheist.com/2020/03/ask-hrw-israel-and-palestine-addendum-jacobsen/.
Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, May 25). Human Rights Watch (Israel and Palestine) on Common Rights and Law Violations. Retrieved from https://www.newsintervention.com/human-rights-watch-israel-and-palestine-on-common-rights-and-law-violations/.
Kalin, S. & Abdullah, N. (2020, February 3). Organization of Islamic Cooperation rejects Trump peace plan: statement. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-oic/organization-of-islamic-cooperation-rejects-trump-peace-plan-statement-idUSKBN1ZX1BH.
Krauss, J. (2020b, February 7). Palestinians deny US charges of incitement, blame Trump plan. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/b6504c5c673c656b233657655b6fe8c1.
Krauss, J. (2020a, January 31). Palestinians protest Trump plan, Gaza militants fire rockets. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/8b1e187b73181b12f29f5709a95b8f9b.
Krauss, J. (2019, November 24). Rights researcher deported by Israel vows to continue work. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/0affecdba13e41afbdeb9be9825f97b5.
Krauss, J. & Daraghmeh, M. (2020, February 6). Anger at Trump plan could mobilize Arab voters in Israel. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/37982cbe5f3596249c70b907ec87aee2.
Lederer, E.M. & Sanminiatelli, M. (2019, September 26). Abbas slams US for ‘depriving peace process of credibility’. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/c865a01d924542caa0aac0607ba8a63c.
Nebehay, S. (2020, February 12). U.N. report names 112 companies doing business with Israeli settlements. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-un-companies/u-n-report-names-112-companies-doing-business-with-israeli-settlements-idUSKBN206234.
Romo, V. (2019, August 15). Reps. Omar And Tlaib Barred From Visiting Israel After Trump Supports A Ban. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/08/15/751430877/reps-omar-and-tlaib-barred-from-visiting-israel-after-trump-insists-on-ban/.
Silverstein, R. (2008, May 27). Shut out of the homeland. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/may/27/shutoutofthehomeland.
The Associated Press. (2020b, February 12). 94% of Palestinians Reject Trump’s Plan; Support for Armed Struggle on Rise, Poll Says. Retrieved from https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/poll-94-of-palestinians-reject-trump-s-plan-support-for-armed-struggle-on-rise-1.8527500.
The Associated Press. (2020c, January 16). Israel hits Hamas target in Gaza as balloon attacks resume. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/ebebb6d4bdf31c9f7a004a86326ff4a1.
The Associated Press. (2020a, January 28). Netanyahu to ask Cabinet on Sunday to endorse plan to annex parts of West Bank. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/c253924f9bd9c5e0d385cb5f8bed5305.
U.N. Human Rights Council. (2020, February 12). Database of all business enterprises involved in the activities detailed in paragraph 96 of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. A/HRC/43/71.
U.N. News. (2020, February 14). Database of businesses linked to Israeli settlements ‘important initial step’ towards accountability: rights expert. Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/02/1057451.
United Nations. (1948, December 10). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/.
White House Staff. (2020, January). Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People. Retrieved from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/Peace_to_Prosperity.pdf.
Zeyad, L.A. (2019, December 16). Facebook Twitter Why is Israel preventing me from accompanying my mother to chemotherapy?. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/12/why-is-israel-preventing-me-from-accompanying-my-mother-to-chemotherapy/.
 In terms of the presence at an announcement or an unveiling of the “Deal of the Century,” the Mideast plan, the Trump peace plan, or the release of the publication entitled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” it was reported by the Associated Press:
“It’s going to work,” Trump said, as he presented the plan at a White House ceremony filled with Israeli officials and allies, including evangelical Christian leaders and wealthy Republican donors. Representatives from the Arab countries of Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates were present, but there were no Palestinian representatives [emphasis added].
See Heller & Lee (2020).
 The Associated Press stated:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said “a thousand no’s” to the Mideast peace plan announced Tuesday by President Donald Trump…
…“We are certain that our Palestinian people will not let these conspiracies pass. So, all options are open. The (Israeli) occupation and the U.S. administration will bear the responsibility for what they did,” senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said as he participated in one of several protests that broke out across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip…
…EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Trump’s initiative “provides an occasion to re-launch the urgently needed efforts towards a negotiated and viable solution” to the conflict…
…U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations supports two states living in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, according to his spokesman…
…Saudi Arabia said it appreciated the Trump administration’s efforts and encouraged the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians “under the auspices of the United States…”
…Jordan, meanwhile, warned against any Israeli “annexation of Palestinian lands” and reaffirmed its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, which would include all the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem…
…Egypt urged Israelis and Palestinians to “carefully study” the plan and said it appreciates the administration’s efforts.
See Daraghmeh & Akram (2020).
 The Associated Press stated:
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank also has adamantly rejected the plan [emphasis added], which would allow Israel to annex all of its settlements and large parts of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with limited autonomy in an archipelago of enclaves surrounded by Israel.
See Krauss & Daraghmeh (2020).
 The Associated Press stated:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took to the world stage on Thursday to slam the United States for “depriving the peace process of any credibility” and undermining prospects for a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Abbas also criticized the U.S. for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, for saying that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are legitimate and for cutting development aid to the Palestinians.
U.S. policy, he said, is “pushing large segments of the Palestinian people to lose hope in the possibility of long-awaited peace,” and renewed his call for an international peace conference.
See Lederer & Sanminiatelli (2019).
 This differs from the United Nations stance up to the U.N. Secretary-General making the stance explicit as recent as early 2020. The Associated Press stated:
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations supports two states living in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, according to his spokesman.
“The position of the United Nations on the two-state solution has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound,” the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.
See Daraghmeh & Akram (2020).
 Reuters stated:
The Arab League rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan [emphasis added] at a meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo on Saturday, saying it would not lead to a just peace deal.
The Arab League will not cooperate with the United States to execute the plan, a communique said. Israel should not to implement the initiative by force, it said.
See Fahmy, el-Din, & Laessing (2020).
 Reuters stated:
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation said on Monday it rejects U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan [emphasis added].
The 57-member organization which held a summit to discuss the plan in Jeddah said it “calls on all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the U.S. administration in implementing it in any form”.
See Kalin & Abdullah (2020).
 The United Nations stipulated:
…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…
…THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations…
…All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood…
…Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty…
…All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
See United Nations (1948).
 The “Deal of the Century” or the “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” released on this date. See Holland, Williams, & Mohammed (2020).
 The Associated Press (in Haaretz) stated:
Ninety-four percent of Palestinians reject President Donald Trump’s Mideast initiative according to a poll released Tuesday, which also found plummeting support for a two-state solution with Israel and nearly two-thirds backing armed struggle [emphasis added].
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research was published the poll as thousands of Palestinians rallied in the West Bank and Gaza to reject the Trump plan and express support for President Mahmoud Abbas in his efforts to gain backing at the UN Security Council for a resolution opposing it.
The survey, the first of Palestinian public opinion to be released since Trump’s plan was announced, undercuts the administration’s claims that opposition to the plan is largely confined to the Palestinian leadership, and raises concerns that the implementation of the proposal, which heavily favors Israel, could ignite a new round of violence.
Trump’s Mideast plan, announced at the White House on January 28, sides with Israel on virtually all of the most contentious issues of the decades-old conflict…
…The Palestinian leadership, which cut off ties with the United States after Trump recognized disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, have adamantly rejected the plan.
The opinion survey found that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza also oppose it.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen such a level of consensus among the Palestinian public,” said Khalil Shikaki, the head of the polling center…
…“All Palestinian people and all the factions, national and Islamic, are standing behind President Mahmoud Abbas,” Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told the crowd in Ramallah. “All the streets are full,” he said. “This is the Palestinian response.”
See The Associated Press (2020b).
 U.N. News stated:
A database of 112 businesses connected to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory has been hailed by an independent human rights expert as “an important initial step towards accountability and the end to impunity”.
Ninety-four of the businesses are domiciled in Israel and the rest are in six other countries.
“While the release of the database will not, by itself, bring an end to the illegal settlements and their serious impact upon human rights, it does signal that sustained defiance by an occupying power will not go unanswered”, Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk said on Friday…
…“Without these investments, wineries, factories, corporate supply and purchase agreements, banking operations and support services, many of the settlements would not be financially and operationally sustainable. And without the settlements, the five-decade-long Israeli occupation would lose its colonial raison d’être”, he stated.
The rights expert urged UN Member States to implement laws banning the import of goods produced in illegal settlements located in any occupied territory.
“The international community has rightly condemned the illegal status and harmful impact of the Israeli settlements,” the Special Rapporteur said. “But by engaging in trade and commerce with the settlements, the international community sustains their viability and undercuts its own pronouncements”.
Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
See U.N. News (2020).
U.N. Human Rights Council lists the companies in this footnote below the rest of this contextualization text. The report stated, “OHCHR found that 112 of the 188 business enterprises considered for inclusion in the database met the required standard of reasonable grounds to believe that they were involved in one or more of the listed activities (see table below). The remaining 76 business enterprises did not meet the standard of proof and were not included in the database.” The classifications for the “Category of listed activity” in the table of the 112 businesses references II. Mandate 6. (a) through (j), as follows:
(a) The supply of equipment and materials facilitating the construction and the expansion of settlements and the wall, and associated infrastructure;
(b) The supply of surveillance and identification equipment for settlements, the wall and checkpoints directly linked with settlements;
(c) The supply of equipment for the demolition of housing and property, the destruction of agricultural farms, greenhouses, olive groves and crops;
(d) The supply of security services, equipment and materials to enterprises operating in settlements;
(e) The provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport;
(f) Banking and financial operations helping to develop, expand or maintain settlements and their activities, including loans for housing and the development of businesses;
(g) The use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes;
(h) Pollution, and the dumping of waste in or its transfer to Palestinian villages;
(i) Captivity of the Palestinian financial and economic markets, as well as practices that disadvantage Palestinian enterprises, including through restrictions on movement, administrative and legal constraints;
(j) The use of benefits and reinvestments of enterprises owned totally or partially by settlers for developing, expanding and maintaining the settlements.
OHCHR noted, “With respect to three listed activities (see para. 6 (c), (i) and (j) above), OHCHR did not find any business enterprise satisfying the standard of reasonable grounds to believe involvement consistent with the definitions set out above.” Please find the complete 112 out of the 188 companies who formally met the requirements for inclusion as follows:
|Business enterprises involved in listed activities|
|No.||Business Enterprise||Category of listed activity||State concerned|
|1||Afikim Public Transportation Ltd.||E||Israel|
|2||Airbnb Inc.||E||United States|
|3||American Israeli Gas Corporation Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|4||Amir Marketing and Investments in Agriculture Ltd.||G||Israel|
|5||Amos Hadar Properties and Investments Ltd.||G||Israel|
|6||Angel Bakeries||E, G||Israel|
|8||Ariel Properties Group||E||Israel|
|9||Ashtrom Industries Ltd.||G||Israel|
|10||Ashtrom Properties Ltd.||G||Israel|
|11||Avgol Industries 1953 Ltd.||G||Israel|
|12||Bank Hapoalim B.M.||E, F||Israel|
|13||Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.||E, F||Israel|
|14||Bank of Jerusalem Ltd.||E, F||Israel|
|15||Beit Haarchiv Ltd.||G||Israel|
|16||Bezeq, the Israel Telecommunication Corp Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|18||C Mer Industries Ltd.||B||Israel|
|19||Café Café Israel Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|20||Caliber 3||D, G||Israel|
|21||Cellcom Israel Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|23||Chish Nofei Israel Ltd.||G||Israel|
|24||Citadis Israel Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|26||Darban Investments Ltd.||G||Israel|
|27||Delek Group Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|29||Dor Alon Energy in Israel 1988 Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|31||Egged, Israel Transportation Cooperative Society Ltd.||E||Israel|
|32||Energix Renewable Energies Ltd.||G||Israel|
|33||EPR Systems Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|35||Expedia Group Inc.||E||United States|
|36||Field Produce Ltd.||G||Israel|
|37||Field Produce Marketing Ltd.||G||Israel|
|38||First International Bank of Israel Ltd.||E, F||Israel|
|39||Galshan Shvakim Ltd.||E, D||Israel|
|40||General Mills Israel Ltd.||G||Israel|
|41||Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers Cooperative Ltd.||G||Israel|
|42||Hot Mobile Ltd.||E||Israel|
|43||Hot Telecommunications Systems Ltd.||E||Israel|
|44||Industrial Buildings Corporation Ltd.||G||Israel|
|45||Israel Discount Bank Ltd.||E, F||Israel|
|46||Israel Railways Corporation Ltd.||G, H||Israel|
|47||Italek Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|48||JC Bamford Excavators Ltd.||A||United Kingdom|
|49||Jerusalem Economy Ltd.||G||Israel|
|50||Kavim Public Transportation Ltd.||E||Israel|
|51||Lipski Installation and Sanitation Ltd.||G||Israel|
|52||Matrix IT Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|53||Mayer Davidov Garages Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|54||Mekorot Water Company Ltd.||G||Israel|
|55||Mercantile Discount Bank Ltd.||E, F||Israel|
|56||Merkavim Transportation Technologies Ltd.||E||Israel|
|57||Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.||E, F||Israel|
|58||Modi’in Ezrachi Group Ltd.||E, D||Israel|
|59||Mordechai Aviv Taasiot Beniyah 1973 Ltd.||G||Israel|
|60||Motorola Solutions Israel Ltd.||B||Israel|
|61||Municipal Bank Ltd.||F||Israel|
|62||Naaman Group Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|63||Nof Yam Security Ltd.||E, D||Israel|
|64||Ofertex Industries 1997 Ltd.||G||Israel|
|65||Opodo Ltd.||E||United Kingdom|
|66||Bank Otsar Ha-Hayal Ltd.||E, F||Israel|
|67||Partner Communications Company Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|68||Paz Oil Company Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|70||Pelephone Communications Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|71||Proffimat S.R. Ltd.||G||Israel|
|72||Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|73||Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing Communication Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|75||Shalgal Food Ltd.||G||Israel|
|76||Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|77||Shufersal Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|78||Sonol Israel Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|80||Supergum Industries 1969 Ltd.||G||Israel|
|81||Tahal Group International B.V.||E||Netherlands|
|82||TripAdvisor Inc.||E||United States|
|84||Unikowsky Maoz Ltd.||G||Israel|
|86||Zakai Agricultural Know-how and inputs Ltd.||G||Israel|
|87||ZF Development and Construction||G||Israel|
|88||ZMH Hammermand Ltd.||G||Israel|
|90||Zriha Hlavin Industries Ltd.||G||Israel|
|Business enterprises involved as parent companies|
|No.||Business Enterprise||Category of listed activity||State concerned|
|91||Alon Blue Square Israel Ltd.||E, G||Israel|
|92||Alstom S.A.||E, G||France|
|93||Altice Europe N.V.||E||Netherlands|
|94||Amnon Mesilot Ltd.||E||Israel|
|95||Ashtrom Group Ltd.||G||Israel|
|96||Booking Holdings Inc.||E||United States|
|97||Brand Industries Ltd.||G||Israel|
|98||Delta Galil Industries Ltd.||G||Israel|
|99||eDreams ODIGEO S.A.||E||Luxembourg|
|102||Export Investment Company Ltd.||E, F||Israel|
|103||General Mills Inc.||G||United States|
|105||Hamat Group Ltd.||G||Israel|
|106||Indorama Ventures P.C.L.||G||Thailand|
|108||Mayer’s Cars and Trucks Co. Ltd.||E||Israel|
|109||Motorola Solutions Inc.||B||United States|
|110||Natoon Group||E, D||Israel|
|111||Villar International Ltd.||G||Israel|
|Business enterprises involved as licensors or franchisors|
|No.||Business Enterprise||Category of listed activity||State concerned|
|112||Greenkote P.L.C.||G||United Kingdom|
See U.N. Human Rights Council (2020).
 By the statements from Shakir’s expert evaluation, and the personal analyses above, France, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America are actively engaged in aiding “in the commission of war crimes” based on “business with illegal settlements” to the tune of 3 companies, 94 companies, 1 company, 4 companies, 1 company, 3 companies, and 6 companies, respectively.
 Amnesty International states:
Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in occupied Palestinian territory and displacing the local population contravenes fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” It also prohibits the “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory”.
The extensive appropriation of land and the appropriation and destruction of property required to build and expand settlements also breach other rules of international humanitarian law. Under the Hague Regulations of 1907, the public property of the occupied population (such as lands, forests and agricultural estates) is subject to the laws of usufruct. This means that an occupying state is only allowed a very limited use of this property. This limitation is derived from the notion that occupation is temporary, the core idea of the law of occupation. In the words of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the occupying power “has a duty to ensure the protection, security, and welfare of the people living under occupation and to guarantee that they can live as normal a life as possible, in accordance with their own laws, culture, and traditions.”
The Hague Regulations prohibit the confiscation of private property. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of private or state property, “except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations”…
… The settlements have been condemned as illegal in many UN Security Council and other UN resolutions. As early as 1980, UN Security Council Resolution 465 called on Israel “to dismantle the existing settlements and, in particular, to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention have reaffirmed that settlements violate international humanitarian law. The illegality of the settlements was recently reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334, passed in December 2016, which reiterates the Security Council’s call on Israel to cease all settlement activities in the OPT. The serious human rights violations that stem from Israeli settlements have also been repeatedly raised and condemned by international bodies and experts.
See Amnesty International (2019).
 Human Rights Watch reported:
This report consists of a series of case studies that compare Israel’s different treatment of Jewish settlements to nearby Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians…
…It is widely acknowledged that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violate international humanitarian law, which prohibits the occupying power from transferring its civilian population into the territories it occupies; Israel appears to be the only country to contest that its settlements are illegal…
…Since 1967, when it seized the West Bank from Jordan during hostilities—and under a variety of governments, since the right-wing Likud party first came to power in 1977—Israel has expropriated land from Palestinians for Jewish-Israeli settlements and their supporting infrastructure, denied Palestinians building permits and demolished “illegal” Palestinian construction (i.e., Palestinian construction that the Israeli government chose not to authorize), prevented Palestinian villages from upgrading or building homes, schools, health clinics, wells, and water cisterns, blocked Palestinians from accessing roads and agricultural lands, failed to provide electricity, sewage, water, and other utilities to Palestinian communities, and rejected their applications for such services.
See Human Rights Watch. (2010).
 Human Rights Watch stated:
Israeli and multinational corporations and their subsidiaries profit from settlements in a variety of ways, including by receiving, producing, exporting, or marketing settlement agricultural and industrial goods, and by financing or constructing settlement buildings and infrastructure. Companies have directly contributed to discriminatory rights violations against Palestinians, for example through business activities based on lands that were unlawfully confiscated from Palestinians without compensation for the benefit of settlers, or activities that consume natural resources like water or rock quarries to which Israeli policies provide settlement industries preferential access, while denying equitable access to Palestinians. These businesses also benefit from Israeli governmental subsidies, tax abatements, and discriminatory access to infrastructure, permits, and export channels; Palestinian businesses deprived of equitable access to these government-provided benefits are sometimes as a result unable to compete against settlement-based companies in Palestinian, Israeli, or foreign markets.
Previous Sessions (Chronological Order)
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
Image Credit: Omar Shakir/Human Rights Watch.