British firm denies involvement in alleged Israeli abuses
JERUSALEM (AP) — A British heavy machinery company has denied allegations by an international rights group that it is complicit in alleged Israeli abuses in the occupied West Bank.
Amnesty International says J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited’s diggers and excavators have been used to demolish Palestinian homes and in the construction of Jewish settlements, both of which are widely seen as violations of international law. JCB is among more than 100 businesses listed in a U.N. database of companies that operate in West Bank settlements.
In a statement issued late Thursday, JCB said it “does not contribute to, or is in any way responsible for, or otherwise linked to adverse human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, either directly or indirectly.”
It said an independent investigation by the U.K. National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises had recently absolved the company of any wrongdoing.
That investigation found that JCB had not breached guidelines aimed at preventing or mitigating human rights violations. But it faulted the company for not carrying out human rights due diligence in its supply chain.
Amnesty said in a report Thursday that JCB’s equipment is sold to an Israeli intermediary, who then sells it onward to clients that include the Israeli Defense Ministry. Amnesty said the use of a middleman does not absolve JCB of ensuring its equipment is not used to violate human rights.
“JCB’s failure to conduct proper human rights due diligence on the end use of its products represents a failure to respect human rights,” the group said in its report.
Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want both territories to be part of their future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community view Israeli settlements — now home to more than 700,000 Jewish settlers — as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city its capital. It views the West Bank as disputed territory whose fate should be settled in negotiations, which broke down more than a decade ago. Israel’s current prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is opposed to Palestinian statehood.