UN warns Bezeq on settlements

Stella Handler  photo: PR/Yanai Yehiel

The UN letter lists 40 infrastructure installations maintained by Bezeq in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem.

Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ) CEO Stella Handler has posted on her Facebook page a letter she received from the UN Human Rights Council ahead of the completion of a blacklist of businesses operating in the territories. The report will be completed by December 2017.

The letter, signed by Mohammad Ali Alnsour, chief of the Middle East and North Africa Section of the UN Human Rights Council Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, states that as part of the preparation of its report to the Human Rights Council, they found that Bezeq was engaged in "The provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of the settlements… the use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes."

The letter lists 40 infrastructure installations maintained by Bezeq in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem, a Bezeq sales point in Maale Adumim, and two sales points in East Jerusalem, and states that Bezeq is installing landline and mobile communications infrastructure in those areas. The letter gives Bezeq 60 days to respond.

The letter concludes by stating, "You may request that the substance of your written response be kept confidential. It is important that you share any information you may have to enable adequate consideration of whether there are any reasonable grounds for inclusion of Bezeq in the database..."

On her Facebook page, Handler noted, "Here is something that the UN Human Rights Council does not want you to know. We recently received notice that Bezeq is likely to be included in a list of Israeli companies operating in Judea and Samaria… They asked us to respond to the findings before they decide whether to include us in the list. They also asked us to preserve confidentiality and not publish our response."

Handler emphasizes the Human Rights Council's hostility to Israel, saying that half of its resolutions concern Israel, while "North Korea, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen are not addressed by it."

"Bezeq is keeping a tight watch over the rights of all of its customers, with no bias, discrimination, or preferences. We provide services to all Israeli citizens, regardless of religion, race, or gender, and respect their decision to live anywhere in the land, whether in Ra'anana, East Jerusalem, Ariel, Sakhnin, and Maale Adumim. We are making an effort and investing a great deal of money in order to ensure that our infrastructure reaches every Israeli community, and to provide high-quality communications services to every citizen. We also provide services to the Israeli security forces with great pride," Handler writes.

The letter concerns a resolution passed by the Human Rights Council last March. The resolution condemned construction in the settlements, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, and called on commercial concerns throughout the world to refrain from doing business "directly or indirectly" with the settlements.

The countries that supported the resolution included Germany, China, India, Japan, and Brazil. The UK abstained, and the US opposed the resolution. The resolution called on UN member countries to distinguish between commercial ties with Israel and commercial ties with the settlements, and to refrain from assisting the infrastructure development in the settlements.

Clause 17 of the resolution called for the compiling of a black list of businesses operating in the settlements, and the letter was sent to Bezeq as a result of this clause. "The Washington Post" reported in August that the Trump administration was taking action to prevent publication of the black list, because many US companies are also operating in the territories.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on October 16, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

Stella Handler  photo: PR/Yanai Yehiel
Stella Handler photo: PR/Yanai Yehiel
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