“Human Rights Focus on Israel-Palestine”
Submitted by: Holy Land Principles, Inc
Posted: Sep 22, 2015 – 10:03 AM EST
CAPITOL HILL, Washington, Sep. 22 /CSRwire/ - The Holy Land Principles, Inc. has commissioned its twelfth Report relating to its campaign for the adaption of the Holy Land Principles — an 8-point corporate code of conduct for the 545 American companies doing business in Israel-Palestine.
The 20-page report “Human Rights Focus on Israel-Palestine” is, like the other eleven Reports, by the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2), which explains: ‘‘This report aims to give investors information to help further navigate the debate about operating in Israel and the Occupied Territories, ask informed questions and productively engage with companies more generally. Implementation of corporate human rights policies and steering a careful course through the divisive scene in the region presents both risks and opportunities for multinational companies in the region and their shareholders.”
Si2 further explains: ‘‘While the Holy Land Principles commissioned this report, Si2 retains editorial control and takes responsibility for its content.”
The Report is available at HolyLandPrinciples.org— under “ Other Key Reports.”
Among other things, Si2’s Report states: ‘‘The U.K.-based EIRIS Foundation launched a database of companies operating in occupied lands. The EIRIS Conflict Risk Network carried out the underlying research into corporate activity in Crimea and Palestine, which is designed to provide ‘businesses, civil society, media and the investor community [with] access to objective and comprehensive information about corporate operations in these two occupied territories.’ The EIRIS database was partly motivated by the Holy Land Principles shareholder resolutions.”
The Report sums up the attitude of American companies operating in the Holy Land thus: “To date, company responses to campaigns specifically related to Israel-Palestine have been muted. Most refer to their general human rights policies, saying that these relate equally to their global operations. Many such policies include a commitment to the tenets of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, also known as the Ruggie Principles. While some readers may see this as adequate reassurance of good corporate practice in the region, others may consider it insufficient or even contradictory, given a UN interpretation that the settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Si2 also reports: “A June 2013 report by Kav LaOved and the Workers Hotline, funded by the European Commission, is entitled “Arab Citizens of Israel and Work: Trends of Workplace Discrimination and Violation of Labor Rights.” It reviewed Israeli government public data, as well as original research, and found:
• “Arab citizens of Israel face multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of their national, ethnic and religious identifications (i.e. Arab, Palestinian, Bedouin, Druze, Muslim, Christian) and at times, their membership in one or more distinct subgroups, such as women, the disabled and the elderly.
• Arab citizens of Israel often face discrimination in work opportunities, pay and conditions, both because of the lack of enforcement of labor legislation and inadequate implementation of equal opportunity legislation. Additionally, entrenched structural barriers and employment practices particularly affect Arab women workers.
• The most common form of discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel is making military service a required or desirable attribute for job applicants. While military service is compulsory for Jewish Israeli citizens, it is waived for (and shunned by the vast majority of) Arabs living in Israel.
• Arabs are severely underrepresented in Israel’s civil service. Only 6.97 percent of all civil service employees in Israel are Arab, and only 2 percent are Arab women.
• The International Labor Organization (ILO) has inquired several times over the past decade with the Israeli government about enforcement issues related to local labor laws and relatively low rates of workplace inspections.
• In 2008, while the overall unemployment rate in Israel stood at 7.3 percent, the figure among Arab citizens was even higher at 10.9 percent. Furthermore, of the 40 towns in Israel with the highest unemployment rates, 36 are Arab towns. The percentage of Arabs among all those employed is about 12.6 percent while the Arab population is 20 percent of the Israeli population. The rate of Arab participation in the workforce is 40 percent compared to 62.5 percent for Jews.” In addition, the report found that the rate of participation of Arab women 15 years and older in the Israeli workforce is only 22 percent, one of the lowest in the world, and well behind the 60 percent participation rate for Jewish women.”
Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President of the Capitol Hill-based Holy Land Principles and Irish National Caucus said: “ I hope this independent Report is of value to all concerned about fair employment by American companies doing business in the Holy Land.
While those companies cannot be expected to solve “international issues,” they are most certainly expected to practice fair employment. That is the limited, but key, mission of the Holy Land Principles. Who could be opposed to that? We are filling a vacuum that was crying out to be filled.”