Pompeo ‘outraged’ by UN list of firms with settlement ties

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo takes questions from reporters during a flight from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to Germany, Thursday, February 13, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Pompeo ‘outraged’ by UN list of firms with settlement ties

  • Pompeo said the list supports a Palestinian-led boycott movement and “delegitimizes” Israel

JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said he is “outraged” by the UN’s publication of a list of companies accused of violating Palestinian human rights by operating in Israel’s West Bank settlements.
In a statement, Pompeo said the list supports a Palestinian-led boycott movement and “delegitimizes” Israel. He urged other countries to join the US in rejecting the effort.
“The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database,” Pompeo said. “Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations.”
The database, released Wednesday after years of delays, listed 112 companies that the UN human rights office said are complicit in rights violations by bolstering Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
The list is dominated by Israeli companies, including major banks, construction companies, supermarkets and gas stations. But it also includes a number of global brands, including American firms Airbnb, General Mills and Motorola Solutions.
The Palestinians seek the West Bank and east Jerusalem — captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — as parts of an independent state, and the vast majority of the world considers Israeli settlements to be illegal.
President Donald Trump, however, has taken a more lenient position, tolerating continued Israeli settlement construction and releasing a Mideast plan last month that envisions giving Israel permanent control over all of its settlements.
The UN list does not impose any penalties on the companies or accuse them of acting illegally. Instead, it appears to be aimed at pressuring them into changing their business practices by drawing negative attention to their ties to a contentious Israeli policy.
Israel denounced the list and accused the UN rights office of collaborating with the boycott movement in compiling the names.
The BDS movement promotes boycotts, sanctions and divestment against Israel in a nonviolent campaign that it says is aimed at defending Palestinian rights.
Israel says the movement seeks the country’s destruction and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a charge that BDS leaders vociferously reject.


Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

Updated 24 February 2020

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape by a New York jury
  • He was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013

NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of sexual assault and rape but cleared of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a partial victory for the #MeToo movement that sparked a cascade of allegations against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The jury of seven men and five women found the producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree, a measure of vindication for the dozens of women who came out against the one-time all-powerful filmmaker.
However, the 67-year-old Oscar-winner who produced films including "Shakespeare In Love" was found not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault charges that could have seen him jailed for life.
The Time's Up foundation, formed in the wake of the Weinstein case, hailed the verdict as marking "a new era of justice."
"Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back," it said in a statement.
The limited win for #MeToo presents the most high-profile sex assault conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
The decision was announced in a packed New York courtroom where some 100 people had gathered. The defendant, who attended the trial hunched over a walker, was shielded from view by police officers.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since allegations against him ignited the #MeToo global reckoning against men abusing positions of power in October 2017.
But the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, with many claims too old to prosecute.
One of the predatory sexual assault charges also included testimony from "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.
Six women took the stand from the opening of testimony on January 22, to say they had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Weinstein's team subjected the women to ferocious cross-examination, as they argued that his relationships were consensual and transactional.
The prosecution cast Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a film universe where he was king, but presented no forensic evidence or witness accounts.
The state's case instead rested on asking the jury to believe the women.
Weinstein, who has always said his sexual relations were consensual, was charged with raping former actress Mann in the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.
He was also charged with forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his New York apartment in July 2006 while she was on her period.
Mann and Young both testified that Weinstein's genitals appeared deformed, during graphic and at times uncomfortable testimony, as the prosecution showed jurors nude photos of Weinstein to corroborate their accounts.
The charges of predatory sexual assault, a serious sex crime committed against more than one person, were the most serious and carried a sentence of life in prison.
For the jury to convict Weinstein of that they would have had to believe either Mann or Haleyi plus Sciorra.
Sciorra's allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge.
Ex-model Lauren Young also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.
Judge Burke dismissed the jury just after noon Monday, thanking them for their "care" and "attention."
Eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young's allegations form part of a separate sex crimes investigation against Weinstein being carried out by prosecutors in the California city.
Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and of assaulting Young the following night.