GENEVA Feb 13 A U.N. report on establishing a
database of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements
in the occupied West Bank has been delayed, the U.N. Human
Rights Council said on Monday.
Reuters reported on Friday that the politically sensitive
report, due this month from the office of U.N. High Commissioner
for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, was not ready.
The council's president, El Salvadoran ambassador Joaquin
Alexander Maza Martelli, said on Monday that Hussein had written
to him recommending the report be deferred and saying it should
now be submitted "as soon as possible, but no later than the end
of December 2017".
The issue is sensitive because companies appearing in such a
database could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at
stepping up pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements,
which most countries view as illegal. Goods produced there
include fruit, vegetables and wine.
Israel assailed the council last March for launching the
initiative at the request of countries led by Pakistan, calling
the database a "blacklist" and accusing the 47-member state
forum of behaving "obsessively" against Israel.
There was no immediate reaction from Palestinian authorities
to the delay. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to
address the Geneva forum on Feb. 27.
In recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
has approved the construction of some 6,000 settler homes in the
West Bank and East Jerusalem, drawing Palestinian and
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, adopting
a more measured tone than in previous pro-Israel announcements,
said on Feb. 2 that building new settlements or expanding
existing ones might not be helpful in achieving peace with the
Netanyahu said on Sunday he would present "responsible
policies" in talks this week with Trump, signalling to the
Israeli far-right to curb its territorial demands in the West
Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)