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Israeli businesses support rights abuses: Human Rights Watch
Wednesday January 20, 2016 10:33 PM, IINA

Jerusalem: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated on Tuesday that Israeli businesses operating in the occupied West Bank drive human rights violations by helping to fund, serve and build illegal settlements, Anadolu Agency reported.

In a 162-page report, HRW called on Israeli businesses to stop engaging with settlements “in order to comply with their human rights responsibilities”.

Israeli businesses benefit from a “two-tier” system that applies military law to Palestinians in the West Bank, but not to Israelis.

“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources”, Arvind Ganesan, HRW's director of the business and human rights division, said in a statement.

The report said that Israeli businesses have a larger impact on the West Bank than the actual settlements by operating in around 20 industrial zones that heavily use natural resources like land, water and minerals, which diverts the resources from Palestinians in the West Bank.

“The bottom line is no settlement business should be operating and profiting from land and resources illegally taken from the Palestinian people”, said Ganesan.

The HRW report also cited the World Bank's estimation that the Palestinian economy loses $3.4 billion annually due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian businesses in parts of the West Bank, under Israeli control as part of the 1993 Oslo accords.

A 2011 report by the Palestinian economy ministry estimated that the Palestinian economy loses a total of $7 billion through restrictions on businesses, workers and trade because of the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza.

Last year, Israel reacted angrily to EU guidelines on specifically labeling goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, claiming it would bar the EU from participating in any peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, taking almost a third of all Israeli exports in 2014 according to EU figures, but Israel claimed that the decision to label settlement products was motivated by campaigns to boycott Israeli businesses.

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