Weeks ahead of the expected completion of a UN database of companies that operate in Israel's West Bank settlements, Israel and the Trump Administration are working feverishly to prevent its publication, the AP reports. While Israel is usually quick to brush off UN criticism, officials say they are taking the so-called "blacklist" seriously, fearing its publication could have devastating consequences by driving companies away, deterring others from coming, and prompting investors to dump shares of Israeli firms. "We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day," Israel's UN ambassador, Danny Danon, said. The UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, ordered the compilation of the database in March 2016.
The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements, built on occupied land claimed by the Palestinians for a future state, to be illegal. Israel rejects such claims, citing the land's strategic and religious significance. Israeli officials say that about 100 local companies that operate in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have received warning letters that they will be on the list. In addition, some 50 international companies, mostly American and European, also have been warned. Israel seems to have little leverage over the council. But its campaign has received a big boost from the United States. The Trump administration has taken a tough line against the UN, demanding reforms and in October withdrawing from the cultural agency UNESCO because of alleged anti-Israel bias.