The United Kingdom office of the non-governmental organization Amnesty International has sent a message to Britain’s top companies, asserting they would be complicit in “war crimes” and other human rights violations if they did business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
A press release issued by the group — known for its hostility toward the Jewish state — said that all companies on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, along with 250 CEOs, various corporate law firms, the Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors and the Association of British Insurers had received the warning.
They also got a report titled, “Think Twice: Can companies do business with the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories while respecting human rights?” According to Amnesty, the report claims “that while a ‘thriving settlement economy’ might appear to provide an attractive location for international businesses, no company can involve itself in this economy without contributing to — or being linked to — human rights abuses.”
Amnesty International UK’s Economic Affairs Programme Director Peter Frankental said in a statement, “Whether they’re a funky digital-era outfit or a decades-old FTSE 100 giant, all companies need to understand there’s no way to do business in or with Israel’s settlements without contributing to human rights violations against the Palestinian people.”
“It’s very simple,” he said, “if you’re a company operating in or doing business with the settlements, then you’re involved in systematic injustice, discrimination and other human rights violations perpetrated by the state of Israel against Palestinians.”
“We would advise all business CEOs, pension fund managers and corporate lawyers to take a good look at our report and do what it says on the cover — think twice about doing business in or with Israel’s illegal settlements,” Frankental added.
“Any involvement in the deeply exploitative settlement enterprise is bad for the Palestinian people and bad for your company, whose reputation may be tarnished for years to come,” he cautioned.
“There’s a very clear bottom line here — any profits made by a company via the settlements come at the cost of systematically violating the rights of thousands of Palestinian people,” Frankental concluded.
UK Jewish groups reacted angrily to the news. Marie van der Zyl — the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews — said, “Again Amnesty International has singled out Israel. The organization has a long record of double standards on this conflict.”
Jewish Leadership Council Chief Executive Simon Johnson expressed hope that companies would “discard” the report and said Amnesty had “no credibility on this issue.”
“We will not forget how Amnesty recently left Jews out of its work on racism and refused to allow the Jewish Leadership Council to host an event at its offices,” he stated.
“All the time that they have been criticising Israel,” Johnson added, Amnesty’s “international secretariat in London has been found to have a culture of widespread bullying, public humiliation, discrimination and other abuses of power. Leading British companies need not take lectures from Amnesty.”