Financial Crimes

New houses being constructed at the Israeli settlement of Eldad, south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. Photo : Garry Walsh/Trócaire.

For a significant amount of time, Palestinian civil society has called for focusing not only on those actors that facilitate and directly contribute to the settlement enterprise, but also on those actors that profit – directly or indirectly – from the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). Such actors legitimise the settlements and the war crimes that they rely on, and make the illicit settlement economy financially attractive.

Responding to that call, the ELSC and its partner on this project, Dr. Valentina Azarova, have started research on ways to challenge these financial flows when they reach economies outside of Israel. We have conducted in-depth research on how to challenge corporate profit from the illicit settlement economy.

Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) are illegal under international law, constitute the cause of myriad human rights violations, and are the direct result of multiple war crimes committed by Israeli authorities. This means that any profit derived from them can be classified as proceeds of crime and that all settlement facilities, land, and properties can potentially qualify as stolen goods.

The ELSC is working together with local stakeholders to hold companies who operate in the settlements accountable for their dealings with the illicit settlement economy using this novel approach to Business and Human Rights litigation. The research that has been conducted is centered around the OPT, but it fits well to challenge business links with other illicit economies worldwide.

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