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UK companies could be complicit in the use and trade of goods produced in the occupied Palestinian territory, under breach of international law.

What is the business activity’s impact on communities?

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, deemed illegal under international law, is one of the root causes of the suffering of the Palestinian people and of the injustices they face in their daily lives. Numerous UN resolutions hold that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are illegal on the basis that they are in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. A 2022 UN-appointed Commission of Enquiry found Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory to be unlawful due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies.

Middle East - Business activity in the occupied Palestinian territory

Palestinians in Umm al Khair, Hebron, where homes are frequently demolished by Israeli authorities, look over Karmel settlement. Credit: EAPPI

International businesses are involved in activities related to the support, maintenance and sustaining of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Business activity in the occupied Palestinian territory also includes the extraction and exploitation of water, mineral and other natural resources, which prevent Palestinian communities from being able to farm their land. It includes industrial and agricultural activities within and around settlements, which support and reinforce illegal settlement expansion.

How are UK companies implicated?

UK-based construction equipment company JCB was investigated by a UK Government body and found to be in breach of its human rights responsibilities as its heavy machinery products had been used in Israel’s home demolitions and settlement construction.

Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies

Pope Francis, Laudato Si

What could make a difference for communities, and how is CAFOD working towards this?

The long-term aim of CAFOD’s work in Israel and the oPt is to contribute to building a just peace for all. We work to protect and safeguard the fundamental rights of Palestinians and Israelis through our local partners in the region and to promote a future in which all people in the oPt and Israel are able to live in peace, free from violence and enjoy equal rights and dignity before the law.

CAFOD advocates for the UK government to enforce and strengthen UK legislation and safeguards in trade agreements to ensure that businesses respect international law and standards on human rights.

We also want to empower supporters of CAFOD to use their voices as ethical citizens, consumers, shareholders and employees, to put pressure on businesses to ensure they are not complicit in human rights and environmental violations - including in the occupied Palestinian territory.