Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry, slammed the HRW report on Tuesday for being “one-sided” and ignoring the purported benefits that settlement businesses provide to Palestinians.
“At a time when Israel and the international community are taking practical steps to bolster the Palestinian economy and increase Palestinian employment, Israel is concerned with this one-sided, politicized report, which jeopardizes the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians and discourages rare examples of coexistence, coordination and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians," Nahshon said in a statement to Al Jazeera.
However, Sarah Saadoun, HRW’s Israel-Palestine researcher, described such justifications for the continued occupation and settlement enterprise as an “insult to injury.”
“If these employers truly cared about the financial wellbeing of Palestinians, they should be lobbying their own government to lift its discriminatory restrictions and end its settlement policies," she said.
Meanwhile, on the same day the HRW report was released, Israel banned Palestinians from working in settlements in the West Bank indefinitely due to a recent spate of stabbing attacks targeting Israelis, an Israeli spokesperson told Palestinian news agency Ma'an. The “situation” would be “reviewed on a daily basis,” the spokesperson said according to Ma'an.
For its part, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Tuesday echoed HRW’s call for businesses to cease operations in Israeli settlements.
“We call for the full application of international humanitarian law in the occupied State of Palestine, including international responsibility towards the full implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary General, said in a statement.
The HRW report seems to have already impacted the decisions of some businesses to operate in the occupied territories.
“In the process of writing the report, one of the companies we researched relocated,” Saadoun said, though she would not reveal the identity of the company.
She added that Orange, the French telecom company also “ended its relationship with the Israeli company Partner after being criticized for supporting settlement infrastructure.”