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A4040-332 Accessment: High Availability for AIX - Technical Support and Administration -v2

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A4040-332 exam Dumps Source : Accessment: High Availability for AIX - Technical Support and Administration -v2

Test Code : A4040-332
Test Name : Accessment: High Availability for AIX - Technical Support and Administration -v2
Vendor Name : IBM
: 131 Real Questions

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IBM Accessment: High Availability for

knowing IBM i alternate options for high Availability | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

June 5, 2017 Alex Woodie

there are many alternatives when it involves excessive availability (HA) for IBM i. when you use logical replication software like MIMIX, or a hardware-primarily based answer like PowerHA? for those who installation to the cloud, or stay on premise? Is faraway journaling the way to go or in case you roll your own? IT determination-makers ought to do their homework in the event that they’re going to discover the appropriate answer for them.

if you’re available in the market for a HA solution – and up to date surveys point out that many IBM i shops are looking for HA in 2017 – then make sure to likely delivery at the very beginning. And that skill defining excessive availability.

high availability refers back to the means to hold functions working in the adventure of an outage, both planned or unplanned. A HA answer helps steer clear of downtime through constructing redundancy, failure detection, and failover capabilities into the low-degree system architecture.

Most HA solutions within the IBM i market obtain this aim through the use of true-time replication methods that copy each and every particular person transaction that hits the creation database to a secondary database. within the experience of an outage, the HA solution offers a “role swap” facility to redirect users to the new secondary replica.

HA is related to catastrophe restoration (DR), in that a thoroughly applied and completed HA setup may prevent from needing to put in force your DR strategy within the experience of an unplanned outage. however there are crucial changes between both, the greatest one being that having an HA setup is not obligatory, whereas having a DR strategy is an IT requirement. A HA equipment will also now not offer protection to you from corrupted records from human error, viruses, or ransomware, because the harm will rapidly be propagated to the secondary computer.

In HA and DR, effectiveness of options are measured with restoration time goal (RTO, i.e. how long does it take to improve) and recovery point purpose (RPO, i.e. how a whole lot facts are you willing to lose). if your enterprise conveniently cannot stand to lose entry to core IBM i functions for a given length of time, even if it’s minutes or hours, then it has a low RPO, and HA may be for you.

styles of HA options

in the main, there are two main courses of HA software on IBM i: logical replication software and hardware-based options.

The huge majority of HA solutions use logical replication software to duplicate the transactions from one IBM i ambiance to one other IBM i atmosphere, which is almost always observed on a separate actual IBM i server.

Logical replication-based mostly HA setups historically contain at least two IBM i servers: one to serve because the primary box and one more to serve as the backup. greater shops may also have three or more IBM i servers in their HA setup, configured in quite a lot of manners, whereas smaller retail outlets might also appoint an LPAR on a cloud issuer’s IBM i device to serve as the backup.

Hardware-based HA is a relative newcomer to the IBM i scene. The system utilized in hardware-primarily based HA is different from logical replication, but is widely permitted as the mainstream system within the home windows and Linux worlds.

inside Logical Replication

As they mentioned earlier than, logical replication is the older and more frequent form of HA within the IBM i world. The expertise and thoughts used for logical replication had been honed over decades of true-world use across tens of heaps of installations, which has resulted in a rich ecosystem of logical replication utility and service suppliers able to tackle the HA needs of IBM i retail outlets worldwide.

essentially all the logical replication solutions these days use IBM’s far off journaling technology as the core data replication formulation under the covers, but there is one exception, which we’ll discuss later.

Logical replication is used to duplicate alterations made to records and objects saved within the IBM i server. When a database field is created, up-to-date, modified, or deleted on the fundamental device, the trade is written to the simple server’s local journal receiver. (here is one of the crucial important uses of journaling on the IBM i server; the different is for auditing.)

When a transformation happens in the local journal, it’s immediately replicated over the community hyperlink to the faraway journal of the secondary server. as a result of IBM’s faraway journaling know-how runs underneath the operating system layer, it simplifies the building and maintenance of the logical replication answer that sits on true of it. It “just works,” and is regarded to be bullet-proof.

once the adjustments are current on the remote journal, it’s as much as the third-birthday party HA utility to observe them to the secondary server. many of the processing overhead in logical replication options is incurred on the secondary equipment, which many tout as a improvement.

anyway the remote journaling aid, logical replication options work on good of the working system, and is designed to be sure that purposes are available, as adverse to conserving the whole device (as hardware-primarily based HA does). The preliminary implementation of logical replication is relatively easy, which is a bonus compared to hardware-primarily based HA.

Downsides of this approach primarily core across the want for clients to continually examine to make sure that everything they need to recuperate is being journaled, and that the journal receivers are being applied within the right order.

Logical Replication Market

There are six fundamental providers promoting seven logical replication-based HA options to the international IBM i group. All of them are third-celebration application vendors. The record comprises:

amongst these products, handiest trader’s short-EDD product does not use IBM’s faraway journaling, opting instead for its own proprietary journal scrap method. The different basic areas the place these solutions differ encompass: the coverage of IBM i objects; the monitoring capabilities offered; position-swap look at various capabilities offered; the classification of user interface (some offer only 5250 eco-friendly monitors); and the management capabilities offered.

The companies also vary when it comes to their installed bases, the number of technical guide specialists backing the product, and the typical measurement of the company. imaginative and prescient options is with the aid of a ways the largest vendor here, because of its acquisitions of iTera and Lakeview applied sciences, however HelpSystems’ entry into box with final year’s acquisition of malicious program Busters, as well as regular boom from the likes of shelter and Maxava guarantees to shake issues up. We’ll drill further into these offerings in a future article in the 4 Hundred.

interior Hardware HA

As they outlined earlier than, hardware-based HA, or disk-clustering HA, is a unique beast utterly in comparison to logical replication. It’s also reasonably new to the IBM i put in base, and at this point has been adopted essentially with the aid of greater IBM i shops that have better familiarity with SANs and the superior virtualization technologies that come with them, despite the fact this is starting to alternate.

There are two alternatives when it involves hardware-based mostly HA for IBM i: IBM‘s PowerHA SystemMirror suite, and Dell EMC‘s Symmetrix far flung Distance Facility (SRDF). These hardware-primarily based HA options require the customer to store their statistics in a SAN like IBM’s DS8000 or Storwize V7000, or Dell EMC’s Symmetrix or more moderen VMAX.

IBM’s PowerHA, which by using a long way the most regularly occurring solution right here, provides excessive availability to IBM i stores in a basically distinct means than logical replication. here’s how IBM describes it:

“A PowerHA cluster is created with the aid of taking the database out of SYSBAS and placing it into an independent Storage Pool (IASP) and adding SYSBAS objects into the administrative area. The facts in the IASP is shared between the techniques in the cluster. When configured into an IBM storage server, the IASP will also be switched (LUN stage switching) between partitions (nodes) in the cluster, and it will possibly even be replicated to systems dispersed between remote places. Replication by way of storage server is achieved with Metro reflect or global reflect; if one is using an internal disk the expertise is called geographic mirroring.”

PowerHA works with the aid of replicating the total web page of reminiscence for the DB2 for i database, as opposed to replicating individual transactions. whereas the PowerHA implementation is more difficult than a logical replication implementation, it may end up in a solution that requires less preservation going forward.

We’ll dig greater into hardware-based mostly HA, and into all of the different alternate options that IBM presents in its PowerHA suite, in a future difficulty of The 4 Hundred. stay tuned!

Editor’s notice: This story was corrected. PowerHA is not dependent on SAN technology, and does implement records replication between hosts. IT Jungle regrets the blunders.


Tata Sky Selects IBM Hybrid Storage to Serve 30 Million television clients | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

ARMONK, N.Y., Oct. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Tata Sky, a leading broadcast satellite tv for pc tv provider in India, has selected a brand new IBM (NYSE: IBM) hybrid storage equipment to aid it improved serve its 30 million clients.

"as the fastest growing to be, direct-to-domestic, digital television satellite carrier provider in India, Tata Sky with no trouble can't function with out mission-crucial storage that offers the utmost business continuity and operational effectivity in both their simple and disaster recovery sites," referred to N. Ravishanker, CIO of Tata Sky. The know-how deployed at Tata Sky relies on mitigating possibility of data loss and on the same time, having access to information swiftly. "With IBM DS8000 hybrid flash storage, their response time has enormously greater and queries now return in less than one 2d, bringing larger efficiencies."

The company is the usage of IBM DS8000 systems as its primary storage for all crucial workloads, including CRM, billing and catastrophe restoration.

steady uptime and the possibility of information loss is all the time at the forefront of facts-pushed companies, like Tata Sky, in addition to banking, fiscal and healthcare operations. via 2020, 15 % of digital corporations will fail because of insufficient insurance plan against downtime.1

security is additionally standard for both consumer have faith and enterprise operations.  The cost of a single information breach can spiral to $three.8 million, up 23 percent considering the fact that 2013.2 The DS8000 family meets these challenges with the aid of vastly enhancing the management of starting to be storage demands required by the realities of modern day digital agencies.

To speed up enterprise important computing, IBM introduced a new IBM DS8880 family unit of commercial enterprise hybrid storage, a magnificent, next era system designed with real-time statistics insights for valued clientele requiring increased efficiency, information coverage and uncompromised, nonstop availability. 

With the DS8880 mission-essential purposes are accelerated -- up to two times faster3 than outdated generations, making it an amazing storage alternative for banking and fiscal industries, to be used with electronic scientific statistics, in addition to for ERP, CRM and retail systems that want reputable, agile and incessant access to facts. 

The latest architecture also mitigates possibility in view that all components are redundant and may be upgraded on-line. This minimizes downtime to approximately 30 seconds per year -- even much less if a multi-web site disaster restoration answer is also put in.four

With a large-scale disaster, business continuance is barely as critical as facts insurance plan and the DS8880 enables far off mirroring that will also be built-in with a excessive availability server potential to provide the highest levels of availability.

For these valued clientele like Tata Sky that are trying to find integration with cloud-based and mission important environments, the DS8880 family offers powerful integration with IBM z programs and other IBM compute systems to enhance enterprise methods and capabilities by means of enabling methods for the dynamic calls for of analytics, huge information and cloud environments. It maximizes utilization of resources, including group of workers productivity, house and price with streamlined management and operations and 30 percent reduction in footprint5 on a new 19-inch rack.

"In cutting-edge quickly, analytics data-pushed, cloud-primarily based world, their consumers want storage options that they could rely on and that at once impact their ability to carry excessive exceptional service to their purchasers and outperform rivals," talked about Jamie Thomas, standard supervisor, IBM Storage. "As a part of IBM's daring commitment to storage, latest launch of the DS8880 family unit presents a great answer for clients like Tata Sky that require excessive performing, mission essential acceleration to manage the changing circumstances in the modern commercial enterprise."

the new DS8880 family unit of storage accommodates a excessive efficiency flash enclosure module presenting optimized performance for mission vital functions. moreover, the system can scale three petabytes6, offering advanced points for compliance and safety. The DS8880 graphical user interface (GUI) additionally contains intuitive navigation and streamlined configuration approaches, proposing customizable views, interactive menus and a configuration wizard to aid administrators configure a complete answer in less than half-hour.7

the new family of storage is attainable international beginning today with a starting expense of $50,000 and with new licensing packages for simplified ordering and installation. models include:

  • IBM DS8884 - a lower can charge, space-saving equipment with advanced, effortless-to-use operations and continual availability for operating crucial workloads on IBM z techniques, IBM energy techniques or dispensed programs, as a committed platform for consolidated methods or for dissimilar platforms.
  • IBM DS8886 – an commercial enterprise type equipment that accelerates critical applications with up to two times8 improved efficiency backed by way of more than six nines availability, multi-web site replication; and IBM z programs, IBM energy techniques or dispensed programs integration -- in an easily scalable package.
  • IBM DS8888 – an all-flash Storage device, with availability in early 2016, designed for severe acceleration of mission important functions, with nonstop availability and simplified integration.
  • For extra advice in regards to the DS8880 consult with www.ibm.com/DS8000 and join the conversation on Twitter @ibmstorage.       

    IBM contact:Dayna Fried IBM Media members of the family 1-925-493-9020daynafried@us.ibm.com

    1 Predicts 2015: business Continuity administration and IT catastrophe recuperation administration, Gartner 201522015 cost of information Breach study: international evaluation Benchmark research sponsored with the aid of IBM Independently conducted via Ponemon Institute LLC may also 20153 IBM inside performance consequences: 2 times more suitable bandwidth for sequential read/writes with a optimum configuration of a DS8886 equipment (24 cores, 1536 HDDs and 240 flash drives within the high performance flash enclosure module) in comparison vs. a DS8870 device with a highest configuration equipment (16 cores, 1536 HDDs and 240 flash drives within the high performance flash enclosure module)4 DS8000 with HyperSwap allows scorching swap between simple and secondary Metro reflect to be managed similtaneously with client operations. Operations can continue if there is a disaster or planned outage for six nines availability. here is in line with inner checking out the usage of non-compulsory aspects.  Six-nines is a time period used to denote that a bit of equipment is functioning with ninety nine.9999 % availability (31.5 seconds of downtime per 12 months), on typical.5 IBM evaluation: the storage system is mounted in a 19 inch rack within the new storage rack. old racks are measured at 33 inches, which makes them roughly 30 % smaller. For each rack eliminated, shoppers can retailer $1,000 per year in operational expenses.6 highest actual DS8886 storage skill: 3,072 TB with 768 HDD/SSD at 4TB; maximum physical DS8884 storage potential is 1584 TB with HDD/SSD at 1.2TB7 IBM assessment: administrators can configure a whole solution of up to sixteen array ranks in under 30 minutes. here's based on interior testing.8 IBM inside performance consequences: 2 instances stronger bandwidth for sequential study/writes with the new DS8886 gadget with 24 cores, 1536 HDDs and 240 flash drives within the excessive efficiency flash enclosure module.

    logo - http://pictures.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090416/IBMLOGO

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    linked links

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    HelpSystems Introduces New IBM i excessive Availability solution | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN--(Marketwired - October 03, 2016) - HelpSystems today announced the free up of robotic HA 12.0, the fastest, least difficult, most reasonably priced option to set up high availability for IBM i environments.

    robotic HA is developed on the a hit RSF-HA software from trojan horse Busters -- a solution that a whole bunch of corporations rely on. Working in conjunction with the normal architect, HelpSystems has stronger its performance potential and introduced enterprise-classification aspects to accommodate companies of any size and complexity.

    "excessive availability has been at the right of IT desire lists for the last few years, however the complexities concerned in getting all started have prevented agencies from taking motion," spoke of Chris Heim, CEO at HelpSystems. "We identified the market need and desired to make an easy and most economical answer accessible to help IT gurus."

    robot HA allows IT teams to replicate their complete production ambiance or most effective constituents of it to a backup server so business-vital suggestions stays obtainable all through planned or unplanned outages.

    "It turned into their exact priority to make robotic HA implementation and administration speedy and simple," referred to Tim Woodfield, application building manager at HelpSystems. "Many corporations deploy a excessive availability solution, but never implement it since it's too large of a job. it's no longer the case with robot HA."

    robot HA facets a configuration template that makes it possible for for fast implementation within hours, and it is backed via HelpSystems skilled services and aid.

    To be trained more request a free demonstration of robot HA these days.

    About HelpSystems

    HelpSystems aligns IT and business desires to help organizations construct a aggressive side. Their utility and services computer screen and automate approaches, encrypt and comfy statistics, and supply handy access to the information individuals need. more than 10,000 agencies around the world rely on HelpSystems to make IT lives more convenient and preserve enterprise operating easily. be trained extra at www.helpsystems.com.


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    GABAergic inhibition in dual-transmission cholinergic and GABAergic striatal interneurons is abolished in Parkinson disease | killexams.com real questions and Pass4sure dumps

    Animals

    Hemizygous Lhx6-iCre mice on a swiss genetic background (generous gift from Professor Gordon J. Fishell) were crossed with either RCE-EGFP on a swiss genetic background (generous gift from Professor Gordon J. Fishell) or AI14-tomato (B6. Cg-Gt(ROSA)26Sortm14(CAG-tdTomato)Hze/J, The Jackson Laboratory, USA) on a swiss genetic background reporter mice to yield Lhx6-EGFP or Lhx6-tomato mice. For experiments, transgenic mice Lhx6-iCre+/−; RCE-EGFP+/− were generated by crossing Lhx6-iCre+/−;RCE-EGFP−/− with wt swiss mice (CE Janvier, France). For GAD immunocytochemistry, they used Gad1- GFP on a swiss genetic background knock-in mice where GFP replaces the first exon of the Gad1 gene. For optogenetic experiments, hemizygous ChAT-ChR2-EYFP mice (6. Cg-Tg(Chat-COP4*H134R/EYFP,Slc18a3)6Gfng/J, The Jackson Laboratory) on a C57BL/6J genetic background were crossed with either C57BL/6J mice (The Jackson Laboratory) or Lhx6-tomato (first generation from hemizygous Lhx6-Cre mice crossed with homozygous AI14-tomato mice, Lhx6-iCre+/−;AI14-tomato+/−). Genotypes of the experimental mice were ChAT-ChR2-EYFP+/− or ChAT-ChR2-EYFP+/−; Lxh6-iCre+/−:AI14-tomato+/−. They used both male and female mice. All experiments were performed in agreement with the European community council directives (2010/63/UE) and approved by the local ethics committee (D13 055 19).

    Chronic lesion of the dopaminergic innervation of the dorsal striatum

    The dopaminergic innervation of the left dorsal striatum of Lhx6-iCre;RCE-EGFP mice (25–40 g, aged postnatal day 30 (P30) to P40) was destroyed by local stereotaxic injection of 6-OHDA (Sigma-Aldrich, Inc., USA) under 5% ketamine (Imalgène® 1000, Merial SAS, France)/2.5% xylazine (Rompun® 2%, Bayer SAS, France) anesthesia (10 μl g−1, intraperitoneally (i.p.)). Two microinjections of 6-OHDA were performed through a NanoFIL syringe (outside diameter, 135 μm; World Precision Instruments, USA) placed into the left dorsal. For sham-operated animals, they injected an equivalent volume of vehicle (sterile saline 0.9%), ascorbic acid 0.05%, pH 7.4. They performed in vitro recordings 15–20 days after lesion. The efficacy of the 6-OHDA-induced lesion of dopaminergic terminals in the striatum was determined 10 days before the recording session by apomorphine-induced rotation (0.5 mg kg−1 in 0.1% ascorbic acid, i.p.)44. They checked the extent of the lesion after the recording session by immunohistochemical visualization of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the striatum (see Supplementary Fig. 11).

    Slice preparation

    P30–P40 mice (25–40 g, aged P30–P40, both sexes) were anaesthetized and killed by decapitation. The brain was rapidly removed and placed in an oxygenated ice-cold saline buffer. Sagittal 300–380 µm-thick slices were cut with a vibratome in ice-cold choline solution containing (in mM): 118 choline chloride, 2.5 KCl, 0.7 CaCl2, 7 MgCl2, 1.2 NaH2PO4, 26 NaHCO3, and 8 glucose oxygenated with 95% O2 and 5% CO2. Before recordings, slices were incubated in artificial cerebrospinal fluid (ACSF) solution containing (in mM): 125 NaCl, 3.5 KCl, 0.5 CaCl2, 3 MgCl2, 1.25 NaH2PO4, 26 NaHCO3, and 10 glucose, 300 mOsm, equilibrated at pH 7.3 with 95% O2 and 5% CO2 at room temperature (RT) (22–25 °C) for at least 2 h to allow recovery. For the recordings, they used an ACSF of the same composition but containing 2 mM CaCl2 and 1 mM MgCl2.

    Patch-clamp recordings

    Slices were transferred to the recording chamber and perfused with oxygenated recording ACSF at 3 ml min–1 at RT (22–25 °C). Neurons were visualized using infrared differential interference contrast microscopy. Patch pipettes had resistances of 5–7 MΩ when filled with the “low” chloride intracellular solution (in mM): 130 K-gluconate, 10 Na-gluconate, 7 NaCl, 4 MgATP, 4 phosphocreatine, 10 HEPES, and 0.3 GTP (pH 7.3 with KOH, 280 mOsm). “High” chloride intracellular solution (in mM) contained: 107 K-gluconate, 23 KCl, 10 Na-gluconate, 7 NaCl, 4 MgATP, 4 phosphocreatine, 10 HEPES, and 0.3 GTP (pH 7.3 with KOH, 280 mOsm, 5–7 MΩ). Equilibrium potentials of chloride ions were – 75 mV for the “low” and – 38 mV for the “high” chloride solutions (25 °C). Liquid junction potentials were calculated using Clampex’s Junction Potential Calculator (16 mV in “low Cl” solution vs. 12.4 mV in “high Cl” solution, Δ3.6 mV) and corrected by the Pipette Offset circuitry of the amplifier. Giant GABAergic currents were recorded with a Cs-based solution (in mM): 120 Cs-gluconate, 13 CsCl, 1 CaCl2, 10 HEPES, 10 EGTA (pH 7.3 with KOH, 290 mOsm, 5–7 MΩ).

    Biocytin (final concentration of 0.3–0.5%) was added to pipette solutions to label recorded neurons. Cells with leakage current more then 40–50 pA were discarded.

    To determine cell excitability, they recorded voltage responses (cc mode) to 1 s current steps of − 200 to + 200 pA (10 pA increment, 3 s interval between each step). Current–voltage (I–V) relationships were established to calculate input resistance of cells. For the hyperpolarization-activated sag, they measured the ratio between the peak and minimal amplitudes of the voltage response. Rheobase current, the minimal current that elicits an AP, was determined using a 10 pA step. AP duration (half width) was measured at half of the maximal amplitude. After-hyperpolarization was measured at the peak.

    Patch pipette solution for recordings of single GABAA channels contained (in mM): NaCl 20, KCl 5, TEA-Cl 20, 4-aminopyridine 5, CaCl2 0.1, MgCl2 10, glucose 10, Hepes-NaOH 10 buffered to pH 7.2–7.3., and for recordings of single N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) channels: nominally Mg2+-free ACSF with NMDA (10 μM) and glycine (10 μM). Pipettes had a resistance in the range of 7–10 MΩ. They performed conventional ca recordings under visual control. With 1 μM GABA in the pipette solution, after gigaseal formation ( > 3 GΩ) currents through GABAA channels of 1 pA were immediately visible at the potential + 50 mV. Currents through GABAA channels were recorded from − 50 to + 50 mV with 10 mV increments for 1–2 minutes for each holding potential, depending on the ongoing frequency of GABAA channels openings, to obtain at least 20 single-channel openings for each potential. After the recording was completed, they repatched the same cells with the NMDA-containing solution. They performed ca recordings of NMDA channels activity at various pipette potentials from − 80 to + 20 mV with 10 mV increments for 1–2 min. They performed analysis of single channel currents and I–V relationships using Clampfit 10.6 (Axon Instruments, Union City, CA).

    Identification of recorded striatal neurons

    We identified CINs by their large soma ( ≥ 30 µm diameter), thick primary dendrites, and intrinsic membrane properties. Hyperpolarizing pulses produced an initial hyperpolarization followed by a depolarizing sag followed by rebound spikes after pulse cessation. Post-hoc examination of biocytin-filled neurons confirmed the cholinergic identity of recorded cells. FS interneurons discharged AP in high-frequency trains. In addition to fast spikes, PLTS interneurons displayed low-threshold spikes when depolarized from potentials near − 70 mV or after cessation of hyperpolarizing pulses (see Fig. 1b).

    Extracellular stimulation

    To stimulate the cortico-striatal pathway, a bipolar Ni–Cr electrode was positioned on the surface of the Corpus callosum just below M1 motor cortex (see Supplementary Fig. 4). Single or trains (5 stimuli, 50 Hz) of current pulses (25–50 μA, 100 µs)) were delivered every 200 s through the constant current bipolar stimulus isolator A365 (World Precision Instruments).

    Optogenetic stimulation

    Photo-stimulation of the light-sensitive cation channel, ChR245,46, was performed using a micro-mirror array system (Digital Micro-mirror Device, or DMD), which allows arbitrary spatial patterns of illumination47 and thereby photo-stimulation of spatially determined populations of presynaptic neurons48,49,50. Photo-stimulation was performed with a DMD (Mosaic, Andor Technology, UK), using a high-power light-emitting diode (CoolLED pE-4000, CoolLED Ltd., UK). PatchMaster and Andor iQ3 softwares were used to synchronize the light stimulation and electrophysiological recordings. A 490 nm LED was used to activate ChR2 and thereby photo-stimulate CINs. Spatially patterned illumination was generated by the DMD and projected onto the slice via the microscope objective. The spatial pattern of illumination was digitally controlled with microsecond time resolution, by toggling each of the 777,600 (1080 × 720) micro-mirrors within the array. A brief light pulse (2–10 ms) reliably evoked APs in CINs (Supplementary Fig. 8).

    Immunohistochemistry and biocytin-filled cells revelation

    To visualize dopaminergic innervation of the striatum, they performed immunohistochemistry of TH of slices in which they performed recordings and those immediately medial or lateral. After overnight fixation at 4 °C in Antigenfix (Diapath, Italy), sections were washed three times in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS, Life Technologies, USA) and incubated for 30 min at RT in PBS containing 5% normal goat serum (NGS, Jackson ImmunoResearch, Inc., USA) and 0.3% Triton X-100 (Sigma-Aldrich). Then they were incubated overnight at 4 °C with a Rabbit anti-TH polyclonal antibody (1:1000, Pel-Freez Biologicals, USA, ref. P40101-150) diluted in the same buffer. After wash with PBS, they were incubated at RT for 2 h with a Goat anti-rabbit antibody coupled to Alexa Fluor 647 (1:500, Invitrogen, USA) diluted in PBS containing 5% NGS. They were washed three times 10 min in PBS and cover-slipped using Fluoromount-GTM (Electron Microscopy Science, USA) as mounting medium. Electrophysiological data were taken into account only when a severe loss of TH immunoreactivity was present in the dorsal striatum in which recordings were performed (Supplementary Fig. 11).

    To identify cholinergic cells, they performed immunohistochemistry using a Goat anti-ChAT antibody (1:1000, ref. AB 114 P, Millipore, USA). After 1 h incubation at RT in PBS containing 5% normal donkey serum (NDS) and 0.3% Triton X-100, slices were incubated overnight at 4 °C in the same buffer containing the primary antibody. After washing thrice for 10 min in PBS, slices were incubated for 2 h at RT with a Donkey anti-Goat antibody coupled to CY3 (1:500, Millipore) in PBS containing 5% NDS. The same procedure was followed to perform a Lhx6 staining using a Mouse anti-Lhx6 (1:50,000, Santa Cruz Biotechnology, USA, ref. sc-271433) and a Donkey anti-mouse antibody coupled to Alexa Fluor 647 (1:500, Invitrogen). To determine the GABAergic phenotype of ChAT cells, they performed a co-staining between VGAT, GAD65-67, and ChAT on striatal slices from wt and Lhx6-iCre;RCE-EGFP mice by using a Guinea Pig anti-VGAT antibody (1:500, ref 1310004, Synaptic System, Germany) and a Rabbit anti-GAD65-67 (1:500, ref AB1511, Millipore), respectively. After 30 min incubation at RT in PBS containing 1% bovine serum albumin (BSA) and 1% NDS and 0.3% Triton X-100, slices were incubated overnight at 4 °C in PBS, 1% BSA, and 0.1% Triton X-100. Slices were finally incubated for 1 h at RT with a Donkey anti-Goat Alexa Fluor 568 (1:500, The Jackson Laboratory) and a Donkey anti-guinea pig Alexa Fluor 647 (1:500, The Jackson Laboratory) or a Donkey anti-rabbit Alexa Fluor 647 (1:500, The Jackson Laboratory). To verify the selective expression of EYFP in ChAT-positive cells in ChAT-ChR2-EYFP and ChAT-ChR2-EYFPxLhx6-iCre;AI14-tomato mice, they used the same protocol as above. Striatal coronal slices were incubated with ChAT primary antibody coupled with a Donkey anti-Goat Alexa Fluor 633 (1:500, The Jackson Laboratory).

    Quantification of ChAT-, VGAT-, GAD65-67-, EGFP-, and EYFP-positive cell number and assessment of colocalization was performed with Image J Software throughout the entire z-dimension of six or eight sections per brain.

    To reveal biocytin, slices were fixed overnight in Antigenfix at 4 °C, slices were washed three times in PBS, and after a 1 h pre-incubation in PBS containing 5% NGS and 0.3% Triton X-100, they were incubated overnight at 4 °C with streptavidin coupled to Alexa Fluor 555 (1:500, Life Technologies) in the same buffer. Slices were then washed three times 10 min in PBS and cover-slipped using Fluoromount-GTM as mounting medium. To verify whether the recorded cells were located in the 6-OHDA-lesioned region of the striatum, they combined the two types of post-hoc immunohistochemistry.

    For biocytin-filled cells and TH staining detection, mosaics were acquired using an Axio Imager Z2 microscope (Carl Zeiss GmbH, Germany) using the × 10 objective (numerical aperture (NA) 0.3), and the 533–558 nm (beam splitter 570) and 625–655 nm (beam splitter 660) wavelength for excitation of Alexa Fluor 555 and 647 (spectral detection 570–640 nm and 665–715 nm, respectively).

    For triple-labeled EGFP+-ChAT-Lhx6 cells detection, images (pixel size 0.321 µm) were acquired on a Zeiss LSM 800 confocal laser-scanning microscope (Carl Zeiss) using the 488, 555, and 647 nm lasers for excitation of EGFP, CY3, and Alexa Fluor 647 (spectral detection, 400–550 nm, 550-630 nm, and 630-700 nm, respectively). They used the × 40 objective (NA 1.4) and sequentially scanned each channel with a frame average 2. For ChAT, VGAT, and GAD65-67 immunostaining, images were acquired on a confocal laser scanning microscope Leica TCS SP5X equipped with a white light laser, a 405 nm diode for ultraviolet excitation, and 2 HyD detectors, using the × 63 objective, and the 568 nm and 647 nm wavelength for ChAT and VGAT or GAD65-67, respectively.

    For biocytin-filled cell reconstructions, confocal images (pixel size 0.240 µm) were acquired on a SP5X Leica microscope (Leica Microsystems) using the 555 nm band of a white laser for excitation of Alexa Fluor 555 (spectral detection, 565–675 nm). Images were acquired at 400 Hz using a × 63 oil-immersion objective, pinhole set to “Airy 1”, by scanning with a z step of 0.50 μm.

    Reconstruction of biocytin-filled neurons and Sholl analysis

    Only neurons with a complete dendritic arbor were analyzed. Stacks were imported in the open-source platform Fiji (https://fiji.sc/) and stitched together (https://imagej.net/Image_Stitching)51. Without any additional pre-processing, dendrite and axon reconstructions, as well as morphological metric measurements were performed using the semi-automated “Simple Neurite Tracer” plugin (http://imagej.net/Simple_Neurite_Tracer)52. Based on dendrites reconstructions, a Sholl analysis was performed using “Sholl Analysis” plugin (http://imagej.net/Sholl_Analysis)53.

    Single-cell RT-qPCR

    Single-cell RT-qPCR was performed according to modified protocols described in ref.54. Sterile patch pipettes had a tip outer diameter of ~ 2–3 µm and a resistance of 0.7–1.5 MΩ when filled (3–5 µL) with the “low” chloride intracellular solution prepared with RNAse-free water (Roche, USA) and containing 1000 units per mL of Protector RNase Inhibitor (Roche). Cytoplasm and nucleus of identified EGFP+ cells were collected into the patch pipette under visual control. Appropriate controls for possible DNA and RNA contamination were performed when harvesting cells, Reverse Transcription and qPCR reaction: (i) RT-q PCR was performed in individual cells (not pulled data set, as typical practice for these studies) to avoid false positive result due to contamination; (ii) SPNs were used as negative control; (iii) water was tested instead of cell DNA in the RT-qPCR mix to check contamination in the RT-qPCR mix; (iv) samples with no reverse transcriptase to check DNA contamination in the reverse transcription mix; (v) pipette immersed in slice without patching and then same procedure to check contamination in the pipette solution and the medium of recording.

    The content of the patch pipette was expelled into 11.4 μL of re-suspension buffer containing 20 units of Protector RNase Inhibitor and 60 µM random hexamer primer (Roche). After 10 min of denaturation at 65 °C, reverse transcription was performed using Transcriptor high-fidelity cDNA synthesis kit (Roche) on a SimpliAmp Thermal Cycler (Applied Biosystems, USA) following the kit procedures and then kept on ice until the PCR analysis. The PCR analysis was conducted using the LightCycler 480 Real-Time PCR System (Roche) in a total volume of 15 µL containing 3.75 µL of template DNA, 7.5 µL LightCycler 480 Probes Master (Roche), and 1.5 µL of selective Taqman® gene expression assay for ChAT or GAD65, or Lhx6 or Lhx7 mRNAs with hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) mRNA (Life Technologies). HPRT was used as housekeeping or reference gene (see Supplementary Table 23 for specific references), because its expression level is close to that of the target genes in the cell of interest. The reactions were subjected to an initial incubation at 95 °C for 10 min, followed by 50 cycles of 95 °C for 10 s, annealing and extension for 40 s at 60 °C. Fluorescein amidite (FAM) filter detection was 483 nm for excitation and 533 nm for emission, and 2′-chloro-7′phenyl-1,4-dichloro-6-carboxy-fluorescein (VIC) filter detection was 523 nm for excitation and 568 nm for emission. Dual-color relative quantification analysis was performed using LightCycler®480 Instrument Software version 1.2 (Roche, Germany). The heat map shows threshold cycle (Ct) of the target gene normalized to the Ct of the reference gene (HPRT) encoded by color (white to red).

    Mice behavioral tests

    For evaluating mice bradykinesia and motor coordination, they used the pole test. Mice descend a vertical wooden pole (50 cm long and 1 cm diameter) leading to their home cage55. They performed this test 8–9 weeks following 6-OHDA lesion when animals were at least 3 months old. For the treatment of randomly chosen group, Bumetanide (2–2.5 mg kg−1) was given in drinking water for 5 weeks before the test.

    First day of training: To train mice to walk down to their home cage from the top of the pole, mice were first placed head-down on the top of the pole (three trials). Then they performed a minimum of five trials with head up to train them to turn 180° at the top of the pole and to descend the pole.

    Second day of training: 24 h after the first training, mice performed five trials with their head-up on the top of the pole.

    Test day: 24 h after second training, they videotaped the tests and measured the total duration of the descent and scored it, as previously described56 with modifications. The scores were as follows: 1 for a descent lasting 1–3 s, 2 for 4–6 s, 3 for 7–9 s, 4 for 10–12 s, 5 for 13–15 s, 6 for 16–18 s, 7 for 19–21 s, and 8 for 22– 24 s. A score of 9 was given when the mouse descended part way and fell the rest of the way, 10 if it slid down the pol, and 11 if it fell from the top of the pole.

    Five trials were performed for each mouse and the mean data across the trials calculated. The videos were viewed and scored by an investigator who was blind to the animal condition.

    To assess motor coordination of mice they used an apparatus set up by Dr. Paikan Marcaggi. This apparatus first consisted of a horizontal flat beam (114.5 cm long, 2.5 cm wide), held 55 cm above the bench surface by a column at each end. After a few trials on the beam, they added the roller bar in the middle of the beam as explained below. In order to cushion the eventual fall of mice during testing, a soft padded surface was placed at the base of the apparatus. After 2 days of training, the test was performed as previously described for the challenging beam test57 with modifications.

    First roller test was carried out 8–9 weeks following 6-OHDA lesion when animals were at least 3 months old. To do pre- and post-Bumetanide treatment measurements, after the first roller test, a randomly chosen group of mice received the Bumetanide treatment (2–2.5 mg kg−1) in drinking water for 5 weeks, then all groups underwent second (post treatment) roller test.

    First day of training: Mice performed three assisted trials to pass the length of the beam and arrive at their home cage located at one end (there was no roller bar on the beam at this step). When the mouse was placed on the apparatus for the first time, they let it move around and sniff to become oriented to the apparatus. If the mouse turned around, they gently redirected it to the intended direction, but if it continued turning around, they brought the home cage close to the mouse. When the mouse tried to get into the home cage, they moved it back so the mouse could not enter, but had to do a step forward. They continued to do this all the way down the beam. At the end of the beam, they let the mouse enter the home cage. This was the first assisted trial. All mice performed a minimum of three trials to be sure that they can walk the length of the beam on their own. Afterwards, they placed a 36.5 cm roller bar in the middle of the beam to challenge the mice, and they performed a minimum of three more trials getting assistance with climbing up the roller and traversing it to be sure that the mouse was able to perform the task on its own.

    Second day of training: 24 h after the first training, mice performed three trials on the roller bar.

    Test day: Finally, 24 h after the second training, they videotaped the mice while traversing the roller during three consecutive trials. The videos were viewed and scored for the time to traverse the roller bar, by an investigator who was blind to the animal condition. Mean data across the three trials was calculated.

    iDISCO protocol

    Samples were dehydrated in a graded series (20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100%) of methanol (Sigma-Aldrich) diluted in PBS, during 1.5 h each at RT. They were then incubated overnight at RT on a platform shaker in a solution of PBSG-T (PBS containing 0.2% gelatin (Sigma-Aldrich), 0.5% Triton X-100, and 0.02% Sodium-Azide (Sigma-Aldrich)) for 2 days. Next, samples were transferred to PBSG-T containing the primary antibodies (Chicken IgY anti-GFP, 1:4000, AVES USA, AB144 Goat anti-ChAT, 1:500, Merck-Millipore, USA) and placed at 37 °C, with rotation at 100 r.p.m., for 15 days. This was followed by six washes of 1 h in PBSG-T at RT. Next, samples were incubated in secondary antibodies (Donkey anti-chicken Alexa Fluor 647 and Donkey anti-Goat Alexa Fluor 555, 1:500, Jackson ImmunoResearch) diluted in PBSG-T overnight for 2 days at 37 °C. After six washes of 1 h in PBSG-T at RT, samples were stored at 4 °C in PBS until clearing.

    Tissue clearing was performed according to the clearing procedure reported earlier58,59 with some modifications. Briefly, all incubation steps were performed at RT using a 15 ml centrifuge tube (TPP, Dutscher, France) covered with aluminum foil to avoid exposure to light. Samples were dehydrated in a graded series (20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100%) of methanol diluted in PBS, during 1 h. This was followed by a delipidation step of 20 min in dichloromethane (DCM; Sigma-Aldrich). Samples were then transferred to 100% DCM until they have sunk. Finally, samples were cleared overnight in dibenzylether (DBE; Sigma-Aldrich) and stored in polypropylene tubes filled with DBE, at RT in the dark.

    A 3D imaging was performed with an ultramicroscope (LaVision BioTec GmbH, Germany) using ImspectorPro software (LaVision BioTec). The light sheet was generated by a laser (wavelengths 488, 555, and 647 nm, Coherent Sapphire Laser, LaVision BioTec), and two cylindrical lenses. A binocular stereomicroscope (MXV10, Olympus, Japan) with an objective × 2 (MVPLAPO, Olympus) was used at magnification × 2.5. Samples were placed in an imaging tank made of 100% quartz (LaVision BioTec) filled with DBE and illuminated from the side by the laser light. Images were acquired with a PCO Edge SCMOS CCD camera (2560 × 2160 pixel size, LaVision BioTec). The step size between each image was fixed at 2 µm. Three-dimensional image quantifications and movies were generated using Imaris x64 software (version 8.4.1, Bitplane, Switzerland). Stack images were first converted to Imaris file using ImarisFileConverter. Each resulting Imaris file was 16-bit images. A 3D reconstruction of the sample was performed using “volume rendering” (Imaris). Striatal segmentation was based on Allen Mouse Brain Atlas (Allen Institute60) and performed on autofluorescence channel (488). Briefly, “surface” tool were used to delimitate the structure and create a mask of left and right striatum. A second segmentation was processed to isolate the dorsolateral part of the structure. Three-dimensional pictures and movies were generated using the “snapshot” and “animation” tools.

    The left segmented striatum obtained with Imaris was exported in TIF image sequence and a background substraction (rolling ball radius: 5.0 pixels) processed for each channels, using Fiji Software61. To reduce the risk of counting the same ChAT+ cell several times in the Z-Stack, a substack was generated containing substituted slices by black slices every 20 µm. Cells were automatically counted in each slice with Cell Profiler cell image analysis software (Broad Institute Cambridge, USA). For each channel of TIF images, mean image intensity was measured using “MeasureImageIntensity” module and cells were identified with “IdentifyPrimaryObjects” module. The Min and Max typical diameter of objects was set between 8 and 30 pixel units for ChAT+ cells and between 3 and 25 pixel units for EGFP+ cells. Threshold was corrected by the previously measured mean intensity. Resulting detected objects were filtered based on their eccentricity (range between 0.2 and 0.8) using “FilterObjects” module. Then, using mask images generated with the aforementioned module, colocalization between ChAT and EGFP channels was evaluated with “RelateObjects” and “MaskObjects,” in order to determine the number of overlapping objects. Finally, data were exported to a spreadsheet containing the number of quantified cells for each staining and co-localization.

    Drugs

    For in vitro experiments, SR 95531 hydrobromide (gabazine 5 μM, Tocris Bioscience, UK, Ref. 1262), NMDA (10 μM, Tocris Bioscience, UK, Ref. 0114), 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo[f]quinoxaline-2,3-dione (10 µM, NIH generous gift), GABA (10 μM, Sigma-Aldrich), isoguvacine (10 μM, Sigma-Aldrich, Ref. G002), DL -2-Amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (40 µM, Sigma-Aldrich, Ref. A5282), and bumetanide (10 μM, Sigma-Aldrich, Ref. B3023) were directly added to the perfusion solutions. For ca experiments, slices were treated with bumetanide for 40 min before and during recordings. Cocktail of nicotinic receptor antagonists included mecamylamine hydrochloride (10 μM, Tocris Bioscience, Ref. 2843/10), methyllycaconitine citrate (0.1 μM, Tocris Bioscience, Ref. 1029/5), and dihydro-β-erythroidine hydrobromide (10 μM, Tocris Bioscience, Ref. 2349/10). For in vivo experiments, bumetanide pretreatment (3 mg kg−1) was given to mice in drinking water during 5 weeks.

    Statistical analysis

    Data from the electrophysiological and behavior studies were analyzed with two-tailed t-test or one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA)–Fisher’s least significant difference (LSD) post-hoc tests. For morphological metrics, they used one-way ANOVA–Kruskal–Wallis tests followed by Dunn’s multiple comparison post-hoc tests. For Sholl analysis of dendrites, Kolmogorov–Smirnov tests were performed. Analyses were performed with Prism 6 (GraphPad Software Inc., USA) or OriginPro (OriginLab, USA). All data are presented as means ± SEM. *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001.

    Data availability

    All relevant data are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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    INTRODUCTION

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder in which recurrent abdominal pain is associated with a change in bowel habit, typically constipation (IBS-C), diarrhea (IBS-D), or a mixed (constipation and diarrhea) bowel habit (IBS-M) (1). IBS is a common disorder in Western populations, which affects around 11% of the global population (2), with a higher prevalence in women than in men (1). Although the etiology of IBS remains unclear, low-grade inflammation has been widely described in this disorder, with several fundamental studies implicating proinflammatory molecules in the pathophysiology of IBS symptoms (3). They previously showed that the amounts of several polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) metabolites, also defined as bioactive lipids, are statistically significantly altered in biopsy samples from patients with IBS compared to those in samples from healthy controls (HCs) (4). This is in agreement with previous studies focused on the prostanoid subtype of PUFA metabolites (5-7).

    The functional relationship between PUFAs and pain has been the subject of many studies (8). Both basic and clinical studies have revealed that a dietary intake of n-3 series PUFAs results in a reduction in pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis (9, 10), dysmenorrhea (11), inflammatory bowel disease (12), and neuropathy (13), whereas n-6 series PUFAs are high in abundance in patients with chronic pain, including patients with IBS (4, 14, 15). The n-3 PUFA metabolites, such as resolvins (Rvs), are analgesic in multiple pain models, an effect attributed to inhibition of certain transient receptor potential (TRP) channels (16). For example, RvE1 specifically inhibits TRPV1 signaling (17), whereas resolvin D1 (RvD1) attenuates the function of TRPA1 and TRPV4 (18), and RvD2 inhibits TRPV1 and TRPA1 activity (19). These effects have been observed with other types of n-3 PUFAs, such as maresin 1 (Mar1), which also has inhibitory effects on TRPV1 channel function (20) and reduces pain. The quantification of Rvs in the knee synovia of patients suffering from inflammatory arthritis suggests that synthesis of specialized proresolving mediators (SPMs) at the site of inflammation may be a mechanism of endogenous pain relief in humans. In contrast, n-6 PUFA metabolites are pronociceptive by stimulating nerve fibers through the activation of immune cells (21, 22). Nonetheless, several n-6 PUFA metabolites, such as thromboxane A2 (TXA2), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), leukotriene B4 (LtB4), and PGD2, can directly stimulate sensory nerve fibers (23-26). However, some n-6 PUFA metabolites, such as lipoxins, can inhibit pain (27). Consistent with the role of TRP channels in the transduction of noxious stimuli, they previously showed a correlation between PUFA metabolites and TRP channel activation, particularly for the TRPV4 agonist 5,6-epoxyeicosatrienoic acid (5,6-EET) and pain intensity in IBS-D patients (4). Furthermore, PUFA metabolites from colonic biopsies of patients with IBS-C induced Ca2+ influx in sensory neurons independently of TRPV4, suggesting that the PUFA metabolites produced in IBS-C and IBS-D are distinct (4). Thus, the aim of this study was to identify algogenic PUFA metabolites specifically produced in patients with IBS-C and decipher the mechanism by which they may activate sensory nerves. Herein, they showed that 5-oxoeicosatetraenoic acid (5-oxoETE), an n-6 PUFA subtype selectively increased in abundance in colonic tissues from patients with IBS-C, induced hypersensitivity in a manner dependent on the MAS-related G protein–coupled receptor D (Mrgprd).

    RESULTS 5-oxoETE is increased in abundance in colonic biopsies from patients with IBS-C

    PUFA metabolites were quantified in colonic biopsies from patients with IBS and HCs using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Hierarchical clustering of PUFA metabolite amounts quantified in biopsies (picograms per milligram of protein) was used to reveal the main differences between HCs and patients with IBS-M, IBS-C, and IBS-D (Fig. 1A). PUFA metabolites formed five different clusters. The first cluster contained products of arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism [PGE2, thromboxane B2 (TxB2), 5,6-EET, and 14,15-EET], eicosapentaenoic acid metabolism [18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid (18-HEPE), LtB5, and PGE3], and protectin Dx (PDx). Metabolites belonging to this first cluster were most abundant in biopsies from patients with IBS-D (Fig. 1A). Note that TxB2, PGE2, and 5,6-EET were only increased in biopsies of patients with IBS-D (fig. S1). In contrast, TxB2 was decreased in abundance in biopsies from patients with IBS-C (fig. S1). The second cluster discriminated only 5-oxoETE, which was substantially increased in biopsies from patients with IBS-C (Fig. 1, A and B). The concentrations of 7-Mar1 and 15dPGJ2, which delineated a third cluster, showed an increasing trend but did not reach statistical significance in biopsies from any group of patients with IBS (fig. S2). The fourth cluster, grouping most of the lipoxygenase-derived metabolites, was decreased in biopsies from all subtypes of patients with IBS compared to HCs (Fig. 1A). 15-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (15-HETE), 5-HETE, 12-HETE, 14-hydroxy-docosahexaenoic acid (14-HDoHE), and 17-HDoHE were statistically significantly decreased in abundance in all patients with IBS (fig. S2). In addition, 12-HETE was statistically significantly decreased in abundance in biopsies from patients with IBS-C (fig. S1). The metabolites included in the fifth cluster were reduced in amount only in biopsies from patients with IBS-C and IBS-D (Fig. 1A). RvD1 and RvD2 were not detectable in any colonic biopsies. Thus, among all of the PUFA metabolites quantified in colonic biopsies from patients with IBS, 5-oxoETE was the only one to be statistically significantly increased in patients with IBS-C compared to the other IBS subtypes (Fig. 1B) and thus warranted further investigation.

    Fig. 1 Quantification of PUFA metabolites in mucosa of patients with IBS.

    (A) Heat map of PUFA metabolites quantified by LC-MS/MS. Data are shown in a matrix format: Each row represents a single PUFA metabolite, and each column represents a subgroup of patients. Each color patch represents the normalized quantity of PUFA metabolites (row) in a subgroup of patients (column), with a continuum of quantity from bright green (lowest) to bright red (highest). The pattern and length of the branches in the dendrograms reflect the relatedness of the PUFA metabolites. The dashed red line is the dendrogram distance used to cluster PUFA metabolites. (B) 5-oxoETE quantified by LC-MS/MS in the mucosa of HCs (white circles) and patients with the indicated type of IBS (black circles). Data are expressed in picograms per milligram of protein and presented as means ± SEM of 10 to 20 biopsies per group. Statistical analysis was performed using Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance (ANOVA) and subsequent Dunn’s post hoc test. ***P < 0.001 compared to the HC group.

    Local administration of 5-oxoETE induces somatic and visceral hyperalgesia without inflammation

    Because PUFA metabolites can stimulate the immune system, directly stimulate nerves, or both, they first assessed the effect of 5-oxoETE on pain and inflammation processes in vivo. In a first set of experiments, 5-oxoETE was subcutaneously injected into the paws of mice, and the paw-withdrawal threshold to mechanical stimuli was estimated using calibrated von Frey filaments. The time course of mechanical hypersensitivity of the mice that received 5-oxoETE was compared with that of mice injected with vehicle (HBSS). Basal mechanical sensitivity, measured in the paw before injection, was identical in both groups of mice (Fig. 2A). Injection of 5-oxoETE into the hind paws resulted in a decrease in the paw-withdrawal threshold (Fig. 2A) and was observed from 15 min up to 2 hours after 5-oxoETE injection, with maximal reduction at 30 min. The mechanical pain threshold was decreased in a dose-dependent manner 30 min after 5-oxoETE administration with a median effective concentration of 0.6 μM (Fig. 2B). In addition, paw edema formation and histological analysis were investigated to verify whether injection of 5-oxoETE induced an inflammatory process. Injection of 5-oxoETE into the hind paw did not induce paw edema (fig. S3). Moreover, histological analysis of paw tissue did not reveal any sign of inflammation. Similarly, neither tissue disruption nor cellular infiltration was observed even 6 hours after the injection of 100 μM 5-oxoETE (Fig. 2C). Thus, at the somatic level, 5-oxoETE increased paw sensitivity to mechanical stimulation without inducing a quantifiable inflammatory reaction.

    Fig. 2 5-oxoETE induces somatic and visceral hypersensitivity in vivo.

    (A to E) Eight-week-old male C57BL/6 J mice were subcutaneously injected with either Hanks’ balanced salt solution (HBSS; white circles) or 5-oxoETE (black circles) into hind footpads. (A) Somatic pain was monitored using the von Frey test at the indicated times after injection with 10 μM 5-oxoETE or HBSS. Data are means ± SEM of three independent experiments with five mice per group. Error bars indicate SEM. (B) The von Frey test was performed 30 min after injection of the indicated concentrations of 5-oxoETE. Data are means ± SEM of two experiments with six mice per group. (C) Mouse paw tissue samples were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) 6 hours after the administration of HBSS or 100 μM 5-oxoETE as indicated. Images are representative of two experiments with five mice per group. (D) Visceromotor response (VMR) to increasing pressures of colorectal distension (CRD) before and 30 min after intracolonic administration of 10 μM 5-oxoETE (black bars) or vehicle (40% ethanol; white bars). Data are means ± SEM of two experiments with 10 mice per group and are relative to the baseline recorded before treatment. (E) Colon tissue samples stained with H&E from mice treated with 40% ethanol or 10 μM 5-oxoETE as indicated. Images are representative of two experiments with five mice per group. Statistical analysis was performed using Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA and subsequent Dunn’s post hoc test. **P < 0.01 and ***P < 0.001 compared to control mice.

    Intracolonic administration of 5-oxoETE resulted in an increased intensity of abdominal contractions in response to colorectal distension (CRD) (Fig. 2D). Moreover, the increased intensity of abdominal contractions was observed in response to both innocuous (15 mmHg; allodynia) and noxious (30 to 60 mmHg; hyperalgesia) stimuli 30 min after 5-oxoETE treatment (Fig. 2D). Intracolonic treatment with vehicle (40% ethanol) did not alter abdominal contraction response (Fig. 2D). As was observed after the subcutaneous injection of hind paws, intracolonic administration of 5-oxoETE did not induce inflammation of the colon. Colonic inflammation was assessed by macroscopic scoring and myeloperoxidase activity, which were not increased by 5-oxoETE administration when compared to vehicle (fig. S3). Moreover, histological analysis did not reveal intestinal wall thickening, leukocyte infiltration into the lamina propria, the presence of ulceration, or goblet cell depletion (Fig. 2E). Thus, in vivo local administration of 5-oxoETE induced visceral hyperalgesia in the absence of inflammation, thus suggesting a direct effect on nociceptors.

    5-oxoETE stimulates visceral and somatic nociceptors: Translation to human dorsal root ganglia

    To confirm a direct effect of 5-oxoETE on sensory nerve terminals innervating the colon, they examined its effects upon action potential firing in mouse colonic nociceptors. Specifically, they made teased-fiber electrophysiological recordings from the lumbar splanchnic nerve innervating the distal colon, which is primarily composed of colonic nociceptors with endings on serosal blood vessels penetrating the colon and in the mesentery. On defined populations of nociceptors with receptive fields isolated in flat sheet preparations, they applied 100 μM 5-oxoETE to a small chamber placed directly over the receptive field. 5-oxoETE stimulated action potential firing greater than vehicle in 38% of colonic nociceptor endings assessed (Fig. 3). In a second set of experiments, they determined the effect of 5-oxoETE on Ca2+ mobilization in primary cultures of neurons from mouse dorsal root ganglia (DRGs). In preliminary experiments performed with a working solution containing Ca2+ and Mg2+, they observed a transient increase in the concentration of intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) (fig. S4). To determine whether this transient increase was the consequence of intracellular Ca2+ release or influx of external Ca2+, experiments were performed without Ca2+ and Mg2+ in the extracellular solution. Even without Ca2+ in the extracellular compartment, 5-oxoETE evoked a transient increase in [Ca2+]i that was maximal after 10 to 20 s and declined thereafter (Fig. 4A). The mobilization of intracellular Ca2+ by 5-oxoETE was concentration dependent (Fig. 4B). Similarly, 5-oxoETE induced an increase in [Ca2+]i and the percentage of responding neurons in a concentration-dependent manner in human primary sensory neurons (Fig. 4C). Thus, their data suggest that 5-oxoETE directly activates colonic DRG neurons from mice, as well as human sensory neurons, inducing an increase in nociceptor firing (Fig. 3) and in [Ca2+]i (Fig. 4).

    Fig. 3 5-oxoETE induces lumbar splanchnic nerve firing.

    (A) Example of a teased-fiber recording showing the lumbar splanchnic (that is, colon innervating) nerve response to ring application (7 min) of 5-oxoETE in mouse serosal afferents. Arrows indicate application and removal of 5-oxoETE. Data are representative of eight experiments in which 5-oxoETE elicited nerve discharge above baseline from a total of 21 teased fibers isolated from seven mice. (B) Mean change in firing per second in serosal receptive fields in response to 5-oxoETE compared with the response to vehicle (Krebs buffer). Data are means ± SEM of eight teased-fiber recordings (N = 7 mice) for 5-oxoETE and five teased-fiber recordings (N = 5 mice) for vehicle. Statistical analysis was performed using a Mann-Whitney t test. **P < 0.01 compared to vehicle. (C) Proportion of responses in lumbar splanchnic afferents to application of 5-oxoETE (n, number of teased-fiber recordings; N, number of mice).

    Fig. 4 5-oxoETE induces an increase in [Ca

    2+]iin sensory neurons through a GPCR. (A) Representative trace of Ca2+ flux experiments in sensory neurons incubated in the absence of extracellular Ca2+/Mg2+ and exposed to 50 μM 5-oxoETE or vehicle (HBSS). (B) Ca2+ flux measurements in mouse sensory neurons exposed to the indicated concentrations of 5-oxoETE (black circles) or to vehicle (HBSS; white circles). Data are means ± SEM of seven independent experiments with three wells per condition and 60 to 80 neurons per well. (C) Amplitude of [Ca2+]i (ΔF/F; left) in human sensory neurons and the percentage of responding neurons (right) exposed to the indicated concentrations of 5-oxoETE (black bars) or to vehicle (HBSS; white bar). Data are means ± SEM of three independent experiments with three wells per condition and 20 to 53 neurons per well. (D) Percentages of IB4+ and IB4− mouse sensory neurons that responded to 10 μM 5-oxoETE (black bars) or HBSS (white bars). Data are means ± SEM of three independent experiments with three wells per condition and 60 to 80 neurons per well. (E) Effects of 30-min incubation with 10 μM U73122 (PLC inhibitor) or overnight incubation with pertussis toxin (PTX; 250 ng/ml) on 5-oxoETE–induced Ca2+ mobilization in mouse sensory neurons. Data are means ± SEM of five independent experiments with three wells per condition and 60 to 80 neurons per well. Statistical analysis was performed using Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA and subsequent Dunn’s post hoc test. *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, and ***P < 0.001 compared to HBSS.

    Because 5-oxoETE induced somatic pain without inflammation in vivo, they hypothesized that 5-oxoETE predominantly activates isolectin B4–positive (IB4+) sensory neurons, which do not release neuropeptides involved in neurogenic inflammation. To assess their hypothesis, they labeled mouse sensory neurons with IB4 and treated them with 10 μM 5-oxoETE in the absence of extracellular Ca2+. They found that 5-oxoETE induced an increase in [Ca2+]i in >50% of the IB4+ neurons but not in IB4-negative (IB4−) neurons (Fig. 4D). To decipher the intracellular pathway responsible for the intracellular Ca2+ mobilization by 5-oxoETE, they pretreated mouse sensory neurons with PTX, which inhibits Gi family G proteins, or the phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitor U73122. In neurons pretreated with PTX (250 ng/ml), the increase in [Ca2+]i induced by 5-oxoETE was statistically significantly decreased (Fig. 4E). Pretreatment of sensory neurons with 10 μM U73122 also inhibited the increase in [Ca2+]i induced by 5-oxoETE (Fig. 4E). Thus, these data suggest that 5-oxoETE directly stimulates IB4+ sensory neurons through a Gαi/o- and Gαq-coupled GPCR.

    5-oxoETE activates sensory neurons and induces visceral hypersensitivity through Mrgprd

    Because they found that 5-oxoETE specifically activated IB4+ sensory neurons through Gαi-mediated signaling pathways, they focused their attention on the Mrgprd, which couples to Gαi/o and Gαq proteins. The expression and function of Mrgprd in polymodal nociceptors innervating the skin are well established (28); however, for visceral tissues, this remains less clear. To comprehensively assess this, they retrogradely labeled sensory afferents from the colon using microinjection of Fast Blue (FB) in wild-type (WT) mice and MrgprdEGFP mice. Single-cell quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis was performed on FB-expressing cells from the DRGs of WT mice. They were able to detect Mrgprd mRNA at some level in 40% (18 of 45) of the FB-labeled sensory neurons projecting to the colon through the splanchnic nerve originating from the thoracolumbar (TL; T10-L1) DRG (Fig. 5A). They detected Trpv1 mRNA in 82% (37 of 45) of cells, with 41% (15 of 37) of the Trpv1-positive neurons also expressing Mrgprd mRNA (Fig. 5A). Immunohistochemistry was performed on the thoracic position 13 (T13) DRG from the MrgprdEGFP-expressing mice to determine the incidence of green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression and the peptidergic marker calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in FB-labeled cells, which revealed two distinct nonoverlapping populations (Fig. 5B). Consistent with previous studies, those sensory neurons labeled from the colon with the retrograde tracer FB were predominantly CGRP+ (~70%). In contrast, GFP immunoreactivity was observed in a restricted subset of colonic sensory neurons, accounting for only 7% of FB-labeled cells (Fig. 5B and Table 1). Of the 274 FB+ cells assessed, only 1 cell coexpressed both Mrgprd and CGRP. Those neurons projecting to the viscera represented ~10% of the total population of T10-L1 DRG neurons. Thus, only a very small population (between less than 1 and 4%) of T10-L1 DRG neurons are likely to be both colon projecting and Mrgprd positive.

    Fig. 5 Expression of Mrgprd in sensory neurons.

    (A) Expression of Mrgprd (red) and Trpv1 (blue) mRNA transcripts as detected by single-cell qRT-PCR analysis (middle) of retrogradely labeled mouse colonic sensory neurons (left). Pie chart representation (right) of the expression (dark color) or not (light color) of Mrgprd and Trpv1 mRNA in FB+ neurons. Each segment represents a single colonic sensory neuron. (B) Representative images of GFP (green), CGRP immunoreactivity (red), and FB labeling (blue) in a T13 DRG from an MrgprdEGFP mouse in which FB was injected into the colon. Scale bar, 50 μm. Inset images are magnifications of the boxed areas in the largest images. (C and D) Expression of Mrgprd by immunostaining in a whole human T11 DRG (C) and in a primary culture of human sensory neurons using confocal microscopy (D). Pie chart representation of the immunoreactivity (dark color) or not (light color) of Mrgprd in Pgp9.5+ neurons. Each segment represents a single sensory neuron. Scale bars, 10 μm. Images are representative of two experiments with 10 slides per experiment (C) and of five experiments with two wells per experiment (D).

    Table 1 Percentage of FB+ neurons expressing Mrgprd, CGRP, or both in T13 DRGs per MrgprdEGFP mouse.

    In experiments using an antibody against Mrgprd, they observed infrequent, yet reproducible, colocalization of Mrgprd with PGP9.5 in the colon sections of 6 of 10 WT mice that were assessed (fig. S5). Note that Mrgprd immunoreactivity was not observed in the colons of Mrgprd-deficient mice (fig. S6). The expression of Mrgprd in human sensory neurons was also assessed. They found that Mrgprd immunoreactivity was present in 22% of human T11 DRG neurons (Fig. 5C), which also coexpressed the pan-neuronal marker PGP9.5. In a culture of human sensory neurons, 20% of PGP9.5+ neurons showed Mrgprd immunoreactivity (Fig. 5D).

    To demonstrate the role of Mrgprd in 5-oxoETE–induced neuronal firing, they knocked it down by transducing primary cultures of mouse sensory DRG neurons with a recombinant lentivirus expressing a short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) directed against Mrgprd and the gene reporter red fluorescent protein (RFP). As a control, neurons were transduced with a lentivirus expressing a scrambled shRNA. As expected, the percentage of neurons that responded to 5-oxoETE was statistically significantly reduced in sensory neurons expressing the Mrgprd-specific shRNA compared to those neurons expressing the scrambled shRNA (Fig. 6A). Accordingly, application of 5-oxoETE on sensory neurons from Mrgprd-deficient mice had no greater effect than the application of HBSS alone (Fig. 6B). In contrast, treatment of sensory neurons from Mrgprd-deficient mice with a mixture of GPCR agonists (bradykinin, serotonin, and histamine, each at 10 μM), which was used as a positive control, induced an increase in [Ca2+]i (Fig. 6B). Reciprocally, 5-oxoETE induced a concentration-dependent increase in [Ca2+]i only in transfected, Mrgprd-expressing Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells (Fig. 6C). Last, they assessed the sensitivity of Mrgprd-deficient mice to CRD 30 min after intracolonic administration of 10 μM 5-oxoETE. 5-oxoETE did not induce hypersensitivity in response to CRD in Mrgprd-deficient mice (Fig. 6D).

    Fig. 6 Mrgprd expression is required for the intracellular Ca

    2+mobilization and hypersensitivity induced by 5-oxoETE. (A) Left: Representative image of sensory neurons transfected with shRNA (red) and containing the Ca2+ indicator Fluo-4 AM (green). Right: Percentage of sensory neurons expressing control shRNA or Mrgprd-specific shRNA that responded to HBSS or 10 μM 5-oxoETE. Data are means ± SEM of six independent experiments with three wells per condition and 10 to 32 analyzed neurons per well. (B) Percentage of responding neurons (left) and amplitude of intracellular Ca2+ mobilization (ΔF/F; right) in mouse sensory neurons from Mrgprd-deficient mice exposed to vehicle (HBSS; white bar), 10 μM 5-oxoETE (black bar), or a mixture of GPCR agonists (GPCR mix: bradykinin, serotonin, and histamine, 10 μM each; gray bar). Data are means ± SEM of four independent experiments with three wells per condition and 20 to 50 neurons per well. (C) Effects of the indicated concentrations of 5-oxoETE and of 1 mM β-alanine (positive control) on the amplitude (ΔF/F) of Ca2+ mobilization in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells transiently transfected with plasmid expressing Mrgprd or with an empty vector as a control. Data are means ± SEM of eight independent experiments with three wells per condition. (D) VMR in Mrgprd-deficient mice in response to increasing pressures of CRD before (baseline; white circles) and 30 min after intracolonic administration of 10 μM 5-oxoETE (black circles). Data are means ± SEM of two experiments of seven mice per experiment. Statistical analysis was performed using Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA and subsequent Dunn’s post hoc test. In (A), **P < 0.01 compared to the control shRNA/HBSS group; in (B), **P < 0.01 compared to the HBSS group; in (C), *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, and ***P < 0.001 compared to the corresponding CHO empty vector group.

    DISCUSSION

    In this study, they showed that (i) concentrations of the PUFA metabolite 5-oxoETE were statistically significantly increased in biopsies from patients with IBS-C compared to biopsies from patients with other IBS subtypes or from HCs; (ii) 5-oxoETE induced somatic, as well as visceral, hyperalgesia, without promoting inflammation; (iii) 5-oxoETE activated both mouse and human sensory neurons; and (iv) in mice, 5-oxoETE signaled in a manner dependent on Mrgprd. Together, these data suggest a role for 5-oxoETE and Mrgprd-expressing, IB4+ sensory neurons in visceral hypersensitivity in patients with IBS-C.

    Eicosanoids and docosanoids are the most important lipids implicated in inflammatory processes. They derive from the oxidation of 20 and 22 carbon PUFAs, respectively (29). Several PUFA metabolites are increased in abundance in the intestinal mucosa from patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) (including TXA2, PGE2, LtB4, and PGD2), which induce visceral afferent fiber activation (23-26). Here, they showed that PGE2, 5,6-EET, and TxB2 were statistically significantly increased in abundance in the intestinal mucosa of patients with IBS-D, whereas no alteration in PUFA metabolism was observed in patients with IBS-M. Furthermore, when lipid extracts from HCs and all patients with IBS were compared, they observed a statistically significant decrease in the amounts of 14-HDoHE and 17-HDoHE, which are SPM precursors (30). Because SPMs have an analgesic effect (31), the pain associated with IBS could also be the consequence of a decrease in SPM abundance, leading to sensory neuron activation. A complete characterization of the different SPMs produced by the metabolism of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, or docosapentaenoic acid will be of interest for the characterization of bioactive lipids potentially linked with pain in patients with IBS.

    We showed that the concentration of 5-oxoETE increased in only the colonic biopsies of patients with IBS-C, highlighting its potential relevance as a new marker of this disease. 5-oxoETE, which derives from AA metabolism, is produced by various inflammatory cells. In addition, it can also be synthesized from 5-HETE by stromal cells, possibly by transcellular biosynthesis (32). 5-oxoETE is formed by the oxidation of 5-HETE by 5-hydroxyeicosanoid dehydrogenase (5-HEDH) (33), a microsomal enzyme that is highly selective for 5S-HETE and requires nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+) as a cofactor (34). 5-HEDH is found in neutrophils as well as in various other inflammatory and stromal cells, including monocytes (35), dendritic cells (36), and intestinal epithelial cells (37). 5-oxoETE is a potent chemoattractant for human and rat eosinophils, and it indirectly promotes the survival of these cells (38). However, they observed no cellular infiltration either in the paw or in the intestinal mucosa of mice administered with 5-oxoETE. This discrepancy may be due to the rapid metabolism of 5-oxoETE in vivo (32) or the absence of other molecules, such as interleukin-5, which act in synergy to attract inflammatory cells during inflammatory processes or allergies (39). In their experiments, the injection of 5-oxoETE alone, without cofactors, could thus explain the absence of infiltration of tissues by polymorphonuclear cells. The formation of 5-oxoETE requires NADP+ (40). Accordingly, oxidative stress associated with IBS-C (41) may improve the conversion rate of NADPH (reduced form of NADP+) into NADP+ in epithelial cells, thereby resulting in the synthesis of greater amounts of 5-oxoETE.

    In a previous study, they reported that PUFA metabolites extracted from biopsies of patients with IBS-C and IBS-D triggered an increase in [Ca2+]i in primary sensory neurons, whereas those extracted from biopsies of patients with IBS-M had no effect (4). They further identified the PUFA metabolite 5,6-EET as a TRPV4 agonist with algogenic activity, specifically associated with the IBS-D subgroup (4). By contrast, no PUFA metabolite with TRP agonist activity was found to be increased in abundance in biopsies of patients with IBS-C (4). Because they found that only 5-oxoETE was increased in biopsies of patients with IBS-C, they hypothesized that this PUFA metabolite might be responsible for the activation of sensory neurons and hypersensitivity associated with IBS-C. As previously reported in humans, 5-oxoETE may interact with the oxoeicosanoid receptor 1 (OXER1). However, there is no homologous OXE receptor in rodents (40). Because the observed 5-oxoETE–induced increase in [Ca2+]i in mouse sensory neurons was inhibited by both a PLC inhibitor and PTX, they hypothesized that 5-oxoETE led to the activation of Gαi/o/Gαq-coupled GPCRs. Given that 5-oxoETE acted selectively on IB4+ sensory neurons, the targeted receptor should be specifically expressed on this neuronal subclass. Accordingly, they investigated the role of Mrgprd, a GPCR specifically expressed on IB4+ sensory neurons, which may be coupled to Gαq proteins and to PTX-sensitive Gαi/o proteins (42) and was previously reported as a key player in mechanical hypersensitivity (43-45).

    Stimulation of Mrgprd+ neurons with β-alanine, the prototypical agonist of Mrgprd, increases [Ca2+]i (46), as was observed here after 5-oxoETE treatment. Moreover, in a FLIPR (fluorescent imaging plate reader) assay developed for the simultaneous identification of Mrgprd agonists and antagonists, a PLC inhibitor completely blocked the FLIPR response to β-alanine, whereas PTX treatment resulted in 50% reduction in [Ca2+]i (47). Again, similar results were obtained here in experiments with PTX or a PLC inhibitor to inhibit 5-oxoETE–induced activation of primary mouse sensory neurons. Using tissue from adult MrgprdEGFP mice stained with antibodies to GFP, a previous study showed that Mrgprd is expressed in nonpeptidergic neurons that innervate the epidermis; however, Mrgprd+ fibers were not observed in any other visceral organs, including both the small and large intestine (28). By contrast, numerous studies using different retrograde tracers have identified a minor population (20 to 26%) of IB4+ sensory neurons that innervate the colon (48-50). A study also identified Mrgprd mRNA in colonic sensory neurons by single-cell RNA sequencing (51). To confirm the presence of both Mrgprd mRNA and Mrgprd protein in colonic sensory neurons in the present study, they applied a similar retrograde neurotracing approach using single-cell qRT-PCR analysis and anti-GFP immunostaining in MrgprdEGFP mice. They observed Mrgprd mRNA and Mrgprd protein expression in sensory DRG neurons projecting to the colon at a similar frequency to that observed in previous studies (51), thereby not only confirming the presence of an Mrgprd+ colonic neuronal subtype but also reinforcing Mrgprd as a potential target of 5-oxoETE. The activity of 5-oxoETE toward Mrgprd was attested by its ability to induce an increase in [Ca2+]i in IB4+ sensory neurons but not in mouse neurons in which Mrgprd was knocked down by shRNA or in neurons from Mrgprd-deficient mice. Conversely, whereas Ca2+ transients were stimulated by 5-oxoETE in CHO cells transfected with a plasmid expressing Mrgprd, CHO cells transfected with a control plasmid were not responsive to 5-oxoETE.

    Activation of Mrgprd inhibits a fraction of the total M-current, carried primarily by the voltage-gated Kv7 (KCNQ)2/3 K+ channel, contributing to an increase in the excitability of DRG neurons (52). Thus, Mrgprd activation by 5-oxoETE might promote the excitability of primary nociceptive afferents by KCNQ inhibition. Several groups have demonstrated that retigabine, a KCNQ opener, is effective in reducing neuropathic (53) and inflammatory pain (54). At the visceral level, retigabine reduces capsaicin-induced visceral pain and can inhibit noxious chemosensitivity in human tissue, suggesting that KCNQ channels play an inhibitory role in the transmission of visceral nociception (55, 56). Given that human sensory DRG neurons express Mrgprd and are activated by 5-oxoETE, they can speculate that 5-oxoETE modulates KCNQ channels through Mrgprd activation, leading to neuronal activation that contributes to the pain symptoms associated with IBS-C. Nevertheless, because OXER1 is expressed in human tissue, they cannot exclude the possibility that this receptor is activated by 5-oxoETE in human tissue. Together, their current findings build on their previous studies to suggest a pivotal role for PUFA metabolites in the visceral pain associated with IBS (4). Specifically, their study identifies 5-oxoETE with pronociceptive activity, as a hallmark of the IBS-C subtype.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS Chemicals

    6-keto-prostaglandin F1α (6kPGF1α), TxB2, PGE2, prostaglandin A1 (PGA1), 8-iso PGA2, prostaglandin E3 (PGE3), 15-deoxy-Δ12,14-prostaglandin J2 (15d-PGJ2), lipoxin A4 (LxA4), lipoxin B4 (LxB4), LxA4 deuterated (LxA4-d5), RvD1, RvD2, 7–maresin 1 (7-Mar1), LtB4, LtB5, LtB4 deuterated (LtB4-d4), 10(S),17(S)-protectin (PDx), 18-HEPE, dihydroxy-eicosatetraenoic acid (5,6-DiHETE), 15-HETE, 12-HETE, 8-HETE, 5-HETE, 5-HETE-d8, 17-HDoHE, 14-HDoHE, 14,15-EET, 11,12-EET, 8,9-EET, 5,6-EET, and 5-oxoETE were purchased from Cayman Chemical.

    Patients

    Patients (Table 2) were recruited from outpatient clinics of the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of the University of Bologna (Italy) and were included according to the Rome III criteria for IBS. HCs were asymptomatic subjects undergoing colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening. In this group, they excluded subjects based on the presence of the following symptoms in the previous 12 months: abdominal discomfort or pain, bloating, and bowel habit changes. Exclusion criteria for both IBS and HC included major abdominal surgery, any organic syndrome, celiac disease (excluded by detection of anti-transglutaminase and anti-endomysial antibodies), asthma, food allergy, or other allergic disorders. None of these patients or HCs were taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or any other anti-inflammatory drugs (including steroids, antihistamines, and mast cell stabilizers). Patients and HCs gave written informed consent. The study protocol was approved by the local Ethics Committee (64/2004/O/Sper and EM14/2006/O) and conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Patients underwent colonoscopy, and in all cases, six mucosal biopsies were obtained from the proximal descending colon. One biopsy was sent to the pathology department for exclusion of microscopic colitis or other microscopic tissue abnormalities, and four were used in other studies. One biopsy was snap frozen in liquid nitrogen for lipid extraction and PUFA quantification for the purpose of their study.

    Table 2 Characteristics of patients from which biopsies were collected for the quantification of PUFA metabolites. Lipid extraction

    Biopsies were crushed with a FastPrep-24 Instrument (MP Biomedicals) in 500 μl of HBSS (Invitrogen) and 5 μl of internal standard mixture (LxA4-d5, LTB4-d4, and 5-HETE-d8 at 400 ng/ml in MeOH). After two crush cycles (6.5 m/s, 30 s), 10 μl was withdrawn for protein quantification and 300 μl of cold methanol was added. Samples were centrifuged at 1000g for 15 min at 4°C. Supernatants were collected, adjusted to 2 ml in H2O, and submitted to solid-phase extraction using HRX-50 mg 96-well (MACHEREY-NAGEL). Briefly, after plate conditioning, the sample was loaded at a flow rate of 0.1 ml/min. After complete loading, the plate was washed with H2O/MeOH (90:10, 2 ml), and lipid mediators were eluted with MeOH (2 ml). The solvent was evaporated under nitrogen, and samples were dissolved with MeOH and stored at −80°C for LC-MS/MS measurements.

    LC-MS/MS measurements

    6kPGF1α, TxB2, PGE2, PGA1, 8-isoPGA2, PGE3, 15d-PGJ2, LxA4, LxB4, RvD1, RvD2, 7-Mar1, LtB4, LtB5, PDx, 18-HEPE, 5,6-DiHETE, 15-HETE, 12-HETE, 8-HETE, 5-HETE, 17-HDoHE, 14-HDoHE, 14,15-EET, 11,12-EET, 8,9-EET, 5,6-EET, and 5-oxoETE were quantified in human biopsies (57). To simultaneously separate 28 lipids of interest and three deuterated internal standards, LC-MS/MS analysis was performed on an ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography system (UHPLC; Agilent LC1290 Infinity) coupled to an Agilent 6460 triple quadrupole MS (Agilent Technologies) equipped with electrospray ionization operating in negative mode. Reverse-phase UHPLC was performed using a ZorBAX SB-C18 column (Agilent Technologies) with a gradient elution. The mobile phases consisted of water, acetonitrile (ACN), and formic acid (FA) [75:25:0.1 (v/v/v)] (solution A) and ACN and FA [100:0.1 (v/v)] (solution B). The linear gradient was as follows: 0% solution B at 0 min, 85% solution B at 8.5 min, 100% solution B at 9.5 min, 100% solution B at 10.5 min, and 0% solution B at 12 min. The flow rate was 0.35 ml/min. The autosampler was set at 5°C, and the injection volume was 5 μl. Data were acquired in multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode with optimized conditions. Peak detection, integration, and quantitative analysis were performed with MassHunter Quantitative analysis software (Agilent Technologies). For each standard, calibration curves were built using 10 solutions at concentrations ranging from 0.95 to 500 ng/ml. A linear regression with a weight factor of 1/X was applied for each compound. The limit of detection (LOD) and the limit of quantification (LOQ) were determined for the 28 compounds using signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios. The LOD corresponded to the lowest concentration leading to an S/N value >3, and LOQ corresponded to the lowest concentration leading to an S/N value >10. All values less than the LOQ were not considered. Blank samples were evaluated, and their injection showed no interference (no peak detected), during the analysis. Hierarchical clustering was performed, and heat maps were obtained with R (www.r-project.org). PUFA metabolite amounts were transformed to z scores and clustered based on 1 − Pearson correlation coefficient as distance and the Ward algorithm as agglomeration criterion.

    Animals

    C57BL/6 male mice (3 weeks old) were purchased from JANVIER LABS. Mrgprdcre/+ mice were a gift from D. J. Anderson (Caltech, Pasadena). These mice were previously generated as described by Rau et al. (44) and were in an almost pure C57/Bl6J background when they received them at the Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille mouse facility. There, the mice were kept as heterozygotes and were backcrossed to C57/Bl6J for another eight generations. Mrgprd-deficient mice used in this study were obtained by intercrossing Mrgprdcre/+ heterozygous mice. Animals were maintained in ventilated cages (four mice per cage) in a specific pathogen–free room at 20° to 24°C and relative humidity (40 to 70%) with a 12-hour light/12-hour dark cycle and given free access to food and water. The Animal Care and Ethics Committee of US006/CREFE (CEEA-122) approved the whole study protocol (permit no. MP/01/64/09/12). MrgprdEGFP mice [B6;129SP2-Mrgprdtm4.1(COP4)Mjz/Mmnc; Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Centers, North Carolina, USA] were raised and maintained at the University of Glasgow and were characterized previously (58). Experiments conducted at the University of Glasgow were approved by the University’s Ethical Review Process Applications Panel and were performed in accordance with the European Community directive 86/609/EC and the United Kingdom Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

    Measurement of somatic nociception

    Paw-withdrawal thresholds were measured using calibrated von Frey filaments with forces ranging from 0.04 to 2g (Stoelting), which were applied onto the plantar surface of the mice. An ascending series of von Frey filaments was applied with each monofilament being tested five times for about 1 s. Threshold to mechanical stimuli was calculated as the force value of the von Frey filament triggering three paw withdrawals over five applications (59). Responses to mechanical stimuli were recorded before and 15 min, 30 min, 1 hour, 2 hours, and 6 hours after an intraplantar injection of 0.1, 1, 10, or 100 μM 5-oxoETE or vehicle (HBSS). In a second set of experiments, paw edema was measured using a digital caliper (resolution, 0.01 mm; Mitutoyo, Aurora, IL, USA) at 1, 2, 3, and 4 hours after intraplantar injection of 100 μM 5-oxoETE. At the end of the experiment, paws were collected for histological analysis by H&E staining.

    CRD and electromyography recordings

    Mice were administered with either 100 μl of 5-oxoETE (10 μM) or vehicle (40% ethanol) intracolonically. They performed a session of CRD and recorded VMRs from implanted electrodes before and 30 min after treatment as previously described (60). Data are presented as the difference between the VMR induced by the distension performed before and after intracolonic treatments. After distension, mouse colons were harvested to perform histological (H&E) analysis and myeloperoxidase activity assay.

    Lumbar splanchnic nerve recording

    The distal colon with associated lumbar splanchnic nerves was removed from male C57BL/6 mice (12 weeks old). The colon was then opened along the antimesenteric border and pinned flat, mucosal side up. The tissue was perfused (7 ml/min; 32° to 34°C) with carbogenated Krebs buffer (124 mM NaCl, 4.8 mM KCl, 1.3 mM NaH2PO4, 2.4 mM CaCl2, 1.2 mM MgSO4·7H2O, 11.1 mM glucose, and 25 mM NaHCO3) and supplemented with 10 μM nifedipine and 10 μM atropine to block smooth muscle contraction, and 3 μM indomethacin to inhibit endogenous prostanoid production. Single unit activity was discriminated using waveform analysis software (Spike 2 Cambridge Electronic Design) from fibers teased from the lumbar splanchnic nerve (rostral to the inferior mesenteric ganglia), recorded using borosilicate glass suction electrodes. Signals were amplified, band pass filtered (gain 5 K; 100 to 1300 Hz; Neurology, Digitiser Ltd., UK), digitally filtered for 50 Hz noise (Humbug, Quest Scientific, Canada), digitalized at 20 kHz (micro1401; Cambridge Electronic Design, UK), and displayed on a computer using Spike 2 software. Individual receptive fields of afferent nerve fibers were identified by systematically probing the tissue with a 1-g von Frey filament. Receptive fields that responded to probing and not to stretch were identified as serosal units (61). Once a serosal unit was identified, a metal ring was placed over the receptive field, and the baseline activity was observed for 3 min. The Krebs solution within the ring was then removed and replaced by 100 μM 5-oxoETE prewarmed to bath temperature. After a 7-min challenge period, the 5-oxoETE and ring were removed.

    Immunofluorescence in mouse colon

    The descending colons of 10 WT and 10 Mrgprd-deficient mice were cryoprotected in optimum cutting temperature compound, sectioned at a thickness of 10 μm (one every 0.1 cm, 20 per mouse) on a cryostat (Leica CM1950, Nanterre, France), and mounted on Superfrost slides (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Villebonne-sur-Yvette, France). Slides were washed in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), 0.5% Triton X-100, and 1% bovine serum albumin (BSA) solution (Sigma-Aldrich) and incubated overnight at 4°C with anti-Mrgprd (1:500; Alomone Labs, catalog no. AMR-061; CliniSciences, Nanterre, France) and anti-PGP9.5 (1:500; Abcam, catalog no. AB86808; Coger SAS, Paris, France) as primary antibodies. After washing, slides were incubated with the appropriate secondary antibody conjugated with Alexa Fluor 488 or Alexa Fluor 555 (Thermo Fisher Scientific), washed, and mounted with ProLong Gold reagent containing 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI; Molecular Probes). Images were acquired using a Zeiss LSM-710 confocal microscope (Carl Zeiss MicroImaging, Jena, Germany) with 20× objective in the inverted configuration.

    Single-cell qRT-PCR analysis of retrogradely labeled mouse sensory neurons

    DRG neurons projecting to the colon were selectively labeled and individually harvested by pulled glass pipette. After RNA extraction, single-cell qRT-PCR analysis for the presence of Mrgprd mRNA transcripts was performed as previously described (62). Briefly, adult mice were subjected to laparotomy under anesthesia, and six to eight injections of FB (~0.2 μl, 2% in saline; Polysciences GmbH) were made into the wall of the distal colon. Five days after surgery, TL (T10-L1) DRGs were collected and enzymatically dissociated (62). Individual cells were isolated by pulled glass pipette and collected into a preamplification mastermix containing 0.1 μl of SUPERase-in (Ambion, TX, USA), 0.2 μl of Superscript III Reverse Transcriptase/Platinum Taq mix (Invitrogen), 5 μl of CellDirect 2× reaction buffer (Invitrogen), 2.5 μl of 0.2× primer/probe mix, and 1.2 μl of Tris-EDTA (TE) buffer (AppliChem GmbH) before thermal cycling (50°C for 30 min, 95°C for 2 min, and then 21 cycles of 95°C for 15 s and 60°C for 4 min). TaqMan qPCR assays for Mrgprd (TaqMan Assay ID: Mm01701850_s1) and Trpv1 (TaqMan Assay ID: Mm01246300_m1) were performed on diluted cDNA products (1:5 in TE buffer) using the following cycling protocol: 50°C for 2 min, 95°C for 10 min, and then 40 cycles of 95°C for 15 s and 60°C for 1 min. Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (Gapdh) mRNA acted as an internal positive control, and a sample of the bath solution was used as a no-template negative control. Sll single-cell RT-PCR products contained Gapdh mRNA, whereas bath control samples did not. The quantitative assessment of gene expression was determined by quantification of cycle values less than the threshold of 35 that were considered as positive. In total, 15 single cells per spinal region (TL) per mouse (n = 3 mice) were isolated; therefore, the expression of mRNA transcripts was determined in 45 colonic sensory neurons.

    Immunohistochemistry of FB-labeled colonic sensory neurons from MrgprdEGFPmice

    From TL regions, DRG T13 were stained from four MrgprdEGFP mice retrogradely labeled with FB to the colon, as described earlier. A single T13 DRG was sectioned sequentially across 10 slides at a thickness of 12 μm. Therefore, on a given slide, the T13 DRG was sampled at 120-μm intervals for the full thickness of the DRG. In total, 16 sections from four animals were analyzed, yielding 274 FB-labeled cells. Slides were stained with chicken anti-GFP (1:1000; Abcam, catalog no. Ab13790) and rabbit anti-CGRP (1:10,000; Sigma-Aldrich, catalog no. C8198) antisera. The secondary antibodies used were goat anti-chicken 488 (1:1000) and donkey anti-rabbit 594 (1:1000). Each probe (that is, MrgprdEGFP and CGRP) per section had a background reading subtracted and was normalized between the maximum and minimum intensity cells. A threshold of mean + 3× SD for the minimum intensity cells (from all 16 sections) was used to differentiate positive from negative cells. Positive cells were then manually confirmed.

    Ca2+imaging of mouse sensory neurons

    DRGs of WT and Mrgprd-deficient mice were rinsed in cold HBSS (Invitrogen) and enzymatically dissociated as described previously (63). Neurons were plated in 96-well plates (fluorescence Greiner Bio-One, Dominique Dutscher, Brumath, France) and cultured for 24 hours. In a first set of experiments, neurons were treated with 5-oxoETE (1, 5, 25, 50, and 100 μM) or vehicle (HBSS). In a second set of experiments, neurons were incubated for 1 hour with IB4 (10 μg/ml) from Griffonia simplicifolia conjugated to Alexa Fluor 594 (Thermo Fisher) to differentiate IB4+ from IB4− sensory neurons. Ca2+ flux was monitored by recording the changing emission intensity of Fluo-4 (Molecular Probes) after treatment with 5-oxoETE (10 μM) or vehicle. In a third set of experiments, neurons were preincubated with PTX (250 ng/ml) overnight or with the U73122 PLC inhibitor (10 μM) 30 min before treatment with 5-oxoETE (50 μM) or vehicle.

    Expression of shRNA directed against Mrgprd in sensory neurons

    Lentiviral particles were produced as previously described (64). Briefly, HEK293T/17 cells (American Type Culture Collection) were cultured according to the supplier’s recommendations. Cells (1.7 × 107) were seeded into a 175-cm2 culture flask containing 30 ml of Dulbecco’s modified Eagle medium (DMEM; Gibco, USA) and then incubated at 37°C and 5% CO2. On the next day, cells were transfected with a mixture of structural (psPAX2 and pMD2.G; Addgene, Cambridge, MA, USA) and transfer vectors (shRNA Mrgprd-RFP-CB or the control shRNA-RFP-CB; OriGene Technologies), with GeneJuice (Millipore, USA) transfection reagent. Cells were incubated overnight at 37°C and 5% CO2 before the medium was replaced with 18 ml of OptiMEM (Gibco, USA). Cell culture medium was harvested 48 hours later and cleared by centrifugation and filtration with a 0.45-μm syringe filter. Neurons were plated in 96-well plates coated with poly-l-ornithine/laminin and cultivated in Neurobasal medium supplemented with B27 and l-glutamine before being transduced with 50 μl of lentiviral supernatant. Three days later, a transduction efficiency of 35% was achieved and a calcium flux assay was performed in response to 5-oxoETE (10 μM), as described earlier.

    Ca2+flux in CHO cells expressing Mrgprd

    CHO cells were transfected with a plasmid expressing mouse Mrgprd (OriGene Technologies, Rockville, USA) with GeneJuice Transfection Reagent (1 μg of plasmid for 3 μl of GeneJuice). The cells were incubated in Ham’s F12 Nutrient Mixture with 5% of fetal bovine serum (FBS). G418 (Sigma-Aldrich) was used as the selection antibiotic. Cells (50 × 103 cells per well) in a 96-well plate were incubated with Fluo-8 loading solution (Fluo-8-AM; Invitrogen) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The fluorescence was then measured at 530 nm on a microplate reader (NOVOstar; BMG Labtech) for 1 min. Five seconds after the beginning of the calcium measures, 5-oxoETE (1, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 200 μM) or β-alanine (1 mM; Sigma-Aldrich) was added. Data were collected and analyzed with the NOVOstar software.

    Ca2+imaging of human sensory neurons

    Experiments were conducted according to opinion number 14-164 of the institutional review board (IRB00003888) of INSERM. Three human T11 DRGs were supplied through the National Human Tissue Resource Center from the National Disease Resource Interchange (NDRI). The DRGs were received unfixed in DMEM at 4°C. DRGs were dissected, minced in HBSS, and incubated in papain (27 μg/ml; Sigma-Aldrich, Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, France) for 20 min at 37°C. After washing with L-15 wash buffer [Leibovitz’s L-15 Medium (Invitrogen) and 10% FBS (Invitrogen)] and HBSS, the DRGs were incubated in HBSS containing collagenase type IV (1 mg/ml; Worthington, Lakewood, NJ, USA) and dispase II (4 mg/ml; Sigma-Aldrich). L-15 wash buffer was added to neutralize enzymatic activities, and the suspension was centrifuged at 1000g for 5 min. The cycle of digestion was repeated three times for 15 min. Neurons in the pellet were suspended in Neurobasal medium (Invitrogen) containing 2% B27, 2 mM glutamine, 1% penicillin/streptomycin, and 10 μM each of cytosine arabinoside, 5-fluoro-2′-deoxyuridine, and uridine (all from Sigma-Aldrich). The medium was changed every 3 days without cytosine arabinoside. Cells were plated in CC2 LabTek II (Nunc, Dominique Dutscher, Brumath, France) for the calcium signaling assay as described earlier in response to 5-oxoETE (0.1, 1, and 10 μM) and for immunochemistry.

    Immunofluorescence in human DRG

    Experiments were performed according to opinion number 12-074 of the institutional review board (IRB00003888) of INSERM. Two human T11 DRGs were supplied through the national human tissue resource center from the NDRI. The DRGs were received unfixed and cryoprotected. The DRGs were cut into 20-μm sections on a cryostat (Leica CM1950, Nanterre, France) and mounted on Superfrost slides (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Villebonne-sur-Yvette, France). Cultured sensory neurons and slides were washed in PBS, 0.5% Triton X-100, and 1% BSA solution (Sigma-Aldrich, Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, France) and incubated overnight at 4°C with anti-Mrgprd (1:100; LifeSpan Biosciences, LS-A4123; CliniSciences, Nanterre, France) and anti-PGP9.5 (1:500, AB86808, Abcam). After washing, the slides and cultured DRG were incubated with the appropriate secondary antibody conjugated with Alexa Fluor 488 or Alexa Fluor 555, washed, and mounted with ProLong Gold reagent containing DAPI (Molecular Probes). Images were acquired using a Zeiss LSM-710 confocal microscope (Carl Zeiss MicroImaging, Jena, Germany) with a 20× objective in the inverted configuration.

    Study approval

    The study protocol for biopsy collection was approved by the local Ethics Committee (64/2004/O/Sper and EM14/2006/O) and conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Patients and HCs gave written informed consent. Fixed and fresh human DRGs were supplied through the National Human Tissue Resource Center from the NDRI (reference: DCEN1 001). Experiments on human DRGs were performed according to opinion number 14-164 of the institutional review board (IRB00003888) of INSERM. Animal experiments were conducted according to the Council of the European Union directive 2010/63/EU. The Animal Care and Ethics Committee of US006/CREFE (CEEA-122) approved the whole study protocol (permit no. MP/01/64/09/12). Experiments conducted at the University of Glasgow were approved by the University’s Ethical Review Process Applications Panel and were performed in accordance with European Community directive 86/609/EC and the United Kingdom Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

    Statistical analysis

    Data are presented as means ± SEM. Analyses were performed using GraphPad Prism 5.0 software (GraphPad, San Diego, CA). Comparisons between groups were performed by Mann-Whitney test. Multiple comparisons within groups were performed by Kruskal-Wallis test, followed by Dunn’s post test. Statistical significance was accepted at P < 0.05.

    Acknowledgments: They thank the Microscope Core Facility, INSERM UMR1043, Toulouse; the Animal Care Facility, Genetoul, anexplo, INSERM US006, Toulouse; and the animal experiment platform of Toxalim (Research Centre in Food Toxicology), Toulouse University, INRA, ENVT, INP-Purpan, UPS, Toulouse, for technical support. They acknowledge the NDRI for supplying the human DRGs. Lipidomic analyses were performed on the Toulouse INSERM Metatoul-Lipidomique Core Facility-MetaboHub ANR-11-INBS-010. Mrgprd-deficient mice were a gift from D. J. Anderson (Caltech). Funding: A.D.-S. was a recipient of a post-doctoral fellowship from São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP; process 2012/07784-4). G.B. was a recipient of an educational grant from Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna, Bologna, Italy. This work was supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (to N.C.), the Region Midi-Pyrénées (to P.L.F. and N.C.), the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (nos. 2002052573, 2007Z292XF, and 2009MFSXNZ) and funds from the University of Bologna (to G.B.), funds from Bowel and Cancer Research (to M.M.T.), BBSRC (BB/P007996/1 to D.I.H. and BB/R006210/1 to J.R.F.H and E.S.J.S.), a Rosetrees Postdoctoral Grant (A1296) awarded to J.R.F.H. and E.S.J.S., and a European Research Council (ERC) grant to N.V. (ERC-2012-StG-20111109). This work was also supported by the platform Aninfimip, an EquipEx (“Equipement d’Excellence”) supported by the French government through the Investments for the Future program (ANR-11-EQPX-0003). Author contributions: T.B., T.P.-B., and J.R.F.H. designed the research studies, conducted the experiments, and acquired and analyzed the data. M.M.T., M.R.B., P.L.F., J.P., and C.D. acquired and analyzed the data. L.B., C.R., and A.D.-S. conducted the experiments. A.M., P.M., and D.I.H. raised the different genetically modified mice and participated in the revision of the manuscript. E.S.J.S. participated in the revision of the manuscript. N.V., A.M., H.E., and G.D. wrote the manuscript. G.B. conducted the experiments and wrote the manuscript. D.C.B. conducted the experiments, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. N.C. designed the research studies, conducted the experiments, acquired and analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. Competing interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper or the Supplementary Materials.


    How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights | killexams.com real questions and Pass4sure dumps

    Almost immediately after Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, the Israeli government began establishing settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. From the outset, private businesses have been involved in Israel’s settlement policies, benefiting from and contributing to them. This report details the ways in which Israeli and international businesses have helped to build, finance, service, and market settlement communities. In many cases, businesses are “settlers” themselves, drawn to settlements in part by low rents, favorable tax rates, government subsidies, and access to cheap Palestinian labor.

    In fact, the physical footprint of Israeli business activity in the West Bank is larger than that of residential settlements. In addition to commercial centers inside of settlements, there are approximately 20 Israeli-administered industrial zones in the West Bank covering about 1,365 hectares, and Israeli settlers oversee the cultivation of 9,300 hectares of agricultural land. In comparison, the built-up area of residential settlements covers 6,000 hectares (although their municipal borders encompass a much larger area).

    Businesses should stop operating in, financing, servicing, or trading with Israeli settlements in order to comply with their human rights responsibilities.

    Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate the laws of occupation. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring its citizens into the territory it occupies and from transferring or displacing the population of an occupied territory within or outside the territory. The Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, establishes the court’s jurisdiction over war crimes including the crimes of transfer of parts of the civilian population of an occupying power into an occupied territory, and the forcible transfer of the population of an occupied territory. The ICC has jurisdiction over crimes committed in or from the territory of the State of Palestine, now an ICC member, beginning in June 13, 2014, the date designated by Palestine in a declaration accompanying its accession.

    Israel’s confiscation of land, water, and other natural resources for the benefit of settlements and residents of Israel also violate the Hague Regulations of 1907, which prohibit an occupying power from expropriating the resources of occupied territory for its own benefit. In addition, Israel’s settlement project violates international human rights law, in particular, Israel’s discriminatory policies against Palestinians that govern virtually every aspect of life in the area of the West Bank under Israel’s exclusive control, known as Area C, and that forcibly displace Palestinians while encouraging the growth of Jewish settlements.

    As documented in this report, it is Human Rights Watch's view that by virtue of doing business in or with settlements or settlement businesses, companies contribute to one or more of these violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses. Settlement businesses depend on and benefit from Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources, and facilitate the functioning and growth of settlements. Settlement-related activities also directly benefit from Israel’s discriminatory policies in planning and zoning, the allocation of land, natural resources, financial incentives, and access to utilities and infrastructure. These policies result in the forced displacement of Palestinians and place Palestinians at an enormous disadvantage in comparison with settlers. Israel’s discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians have harmed the Palestinian economy and left many Palestinians dependent on jobs in settlements—a dependency that settlement proponents then cite to justify settlement businesses.

    Following international standards articulated in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, businesses are expected to undertake human rights due diligence to identify and mitigate contributions to human rights violations of not only their own activities but also activities to which they are directly linked by their business relationships. They are also expected to take effective steps to avoid or mitigate potential human rights harms—and to consider ending business activity where severe negative human rights consequences cannot be avoided or mitigated.

    Based on the findings of this report, it is Human Rights Watch's view that any adequate due diligence would show that business activities taking place in or in contract with Israeli settlements or settlement businesses contribute to rights abuses, and that businesses cannot mitigate or avoid contributing to these abuses so long as they engage in such activities. In Human Rights Watch’s view, the context of human rights abuse to which settlement business activity contributes is so pervasive and severe that businesses should cease carrying out activities inside or for the benefit of settlements, such as building housing units or infrastructure, or providing waste removal and landfill services. They should also stop financing, administering, trading with or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure.

    Human Rights Watch is not calling for a consumer boycott of settlement companies, but rather for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities by ceasing settlement-related activities. Moreover, consumers should have the information they need, such as where products are from, to make informed decisions.

    This report uses illustrative case studies to highlight four key areas where, in Human Rights Watch's view, settlement companies contribute to and benefit from violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: discrimination; land confiscations and restrictions; supporting settlement infrastructure; and labor abuses. These case studies are not necessarily the worst examples of settlement businesses, but demonstrate how businesses operating in settlements are inextricably tied to one or more of these abuses.

    How Businesses Contribute to and Benefit from Discrimination

    Israel operates a two-tiered system in the West Bank that provides preferential treatment to Jewish Israeli settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. Israeli courts apply Israeli civil law to settlers, affording them legal protections, rights and benefits not enjoyed by their Palestinian neighbors who are subject to Israeli military law, even though under international humanitarian law, military law governs the occupied territories regardless of citizenship. Israel’s privileged treatment of settlers extends to virtually every aspect of life in the West Bank. On the one hand, Israel provides settlers, and in many cases settlement businesses, with land, water infrastructure, resources, and financial incentives to encourage the growth of settlements. On the other hand, Israel confiscates Palestinian land, forcibly displaces Palestinians, restricts their freedom of movement, precludes them from building in all but 1 percent of the area of the West Bank under Israeli administrative control, and strictly limits their access to water and electricity.

    In 2010, Human Rights Watch published a report, Separate and Unequal, documenting Israel’s systematic discrimination against Palestinians in favor of settlers. The report found that the impact of these policies on Palestinians at times amounts to forcible transfer of the population living under occupation, since many Palestinians who are unable to build a home or earn a living are effectively forced to move to areas under Palestinian Authority control or to emigrate entirely out of the West Bank. This new report builds on Human Rights Watch’s previous findings and considers the ways in which settlement businesses are deeply bound up with Israel’s discriminatory policies.

    By virtue of facilitating the settlement regime, settlement businesses, in Human Rights Watch’s view, contribute to the discriminatory system that Israel operates for the benefit of settlements. These businesses also directly benefit from these policies in myriad ways. The report describes two such ways. One is the financial and regulatory incentives that the Israeli government provides to settlement businesses, but not to local Palestinian businesses, in order to encourage the economic development of settlements. The other is the discriminatory way that the Civil Administration, the unit in the Israeli military responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, issues permits for the construction and operation of settlement companies, often on land confiscated or expropriated from Palestinians in violation of international humanitarian law, while severely restricting such permits for Palestinian businesses. It is therefore Human Rights Watch's view that businesses operating in or with settlements are inextricably linked to, and benefit from, Israel’s privileged and discriminatory treatment of settlements at the expense of Palestinians.

    As an illustrative example, the report contrasts the operating conditions of a quarry in the West Bank owned and operated by a European company, to the operating conditions of Palestinian-owned quarries in the West Bank town of Beit Fajar. Whereas Israel issued a permit to the European company to operate the quarry on an area of land that Israel declared belongs to the state, Israel has refused to issue permits for nearly all of the 40 or so Beit Fajar quarries, or for almost any other Palestinian-owned quarry in the area of the West Bank under Israel’s administrative control. The World Bank estimates that Israel’s virtual ban on issuing Palestinians permits for quarries costs the Palestinian economy at least US$241 million per year. Yet Israel licenses eleven settlement quarries in the West Bank despite this exploitation of resources in occupied territory violating international humanitarian law.

    Article 55 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 makes occupied property subject to the laws of usufruct. The generally accepted interpretation of these rules permits an occupying power to appropriate the resources of the occupied territory only for the benefit of the protected population or if justified by military necessity. Yet the settlement quarries pay fees to settlement municipalities and the Civil Administration, which cannot be said to benefit the Palestinian people, and sell 94 percent of the materials they produce to Israel or Israeli settlements, in violation of these laws.

    How Businesses Contribute to and Benefit from Land Confiscation and Restrictions

    This report also describes how settlement businesses depend on, contribute to, and benefit from Israel’s unlawful confiscation of and restrictions on Palestinian land for the benefit of settlements. Some settlement businesses operate in residential settlements, or provide services to them, while others operate in “industrial zones” specially built for settlement businesses.

    Such businesses depend on Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land to build the settlements in the first place. Based on the findings of the report, it is Human Rights Watch's view that by facilitating settlements’ residential development, these businesses also contribute to the further confiscation of Palestinian land, restrictions on Palestinian access to their lands, and their forced displacement from these lands. The report highlights the case of Ariel, a settlement Israel first established in 1978. The 4,615 dunams (462 hectares) of land on which Ariel was initially built was seized by military order ostensibly for security purposes. In the decades since, Israel has built three security fences around the settlement, each time encompassing hundreds more dunams of privately owned Palestinian agricultural land.

    The report examines two illustrative case studies—a bank and real estate agency active in Ariel—to demonstrate the manner in which businesses finance, develop and profit from the illegal settlement housing market on lands seized from Palestinians. Many other banks and real estate agencies are active in settlements, and the focus on these companies is purely illustrative and not intended to single them out as particularly problematic.

    The first case study looks at the role of an Israeli bank in the construction of a six-building complex in Ariel called Green Ariel. The bank is financing the project and provides mortgages to Israeli buyers there and elsewhere in Israeli settlements. The bank’s website advertises the pre-sale of apartments in several other buildings under construction in settlements. This is one example of the many banks that finance settlement construction or provide mortgages to settlers.

    The operations of a US-based global real estate franchise is another case study illustrating business involvement in the settlement housing market. Like other real estate agencies, the branches located inside Israel offer properties for sale and rent in Ariel and other settlements; it also has a branch in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

    By contributing to and benefitting from Israel’s unlawful confiscation of land, the financing, construction, leasing, lending, selling and renting operations of businesses like banks and real estate agencies help the illegal settlements in the West Bank to function as viable housing markets, enabling the government to transfer settlers there. In this way, in Human Rights Watch's view, companies involved in the settler housing market contribute to two separate violations of international humanitarian law: the prohibition on an occupying power expropriating or confiscating the resources of the occupied territory for its own benefit and the prohibition on transferring its civilians to occupied territory. By benefitting from the preferential access to land and financial incentives for doing business in the settlements, these businesses also benefit from Israel’s unlawful discrimination against Palestinians.

    Israel’s confiscation of land for settlements and settlement businesses violates international law, regardless of whether the land was previously privately held, “absentee land” or so-called “state land.” Businesses operating on these unlawfully confiscated lands are inextricably tied to the ongoing abuses perpetuated by such confiscations.

    While Israel maintains that its human rights obligations do not extend to the occupied territories, the International Court of Justice, endorsing the position of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, has refuted Israel’s position on the grounds that a state’s obligations extend to any territory under its effective control. Israel also wrongly asserts that the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on an occupying power to “deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” does not apply to voluntary transfers. Both the plain meaning of article 49 of the Convention—which only refers to “transfer” in this clause but expressly refers to “forcible transfers” in the context of a different prohibition in the same article—and the International Committee of the Red Cross’s commentary contradict this position.

    How Businesses Support the Infrastructure of Unlawful Settlements

    Businesses also play a vital role in sustaining the settlements, thereby facilitating and benefitting from Israel’s violation of the international law prohibition on an occupying power transferring its civilian population into occupied territory and contributing to Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians in the West Bank. Businesses provide services of all kinds to settlers. At the same time, they contribute to the economic development of settlements by providing employment to settlers and tax revenues to settlement municipalities.

    The report highlights, as an illustrative example, a company providing waste management services in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Ariel and the nearby Barkan industrial zone. It operates a landfill in the Jordan Valley on land that Israel confiscated in violation of the laws of occupation and helps to sustain the presence of settlements. The company also benefits from Israel’s discriminatory approval requirements that favor Israeli companies servicing settlements but discriminate against Palestinian companies servicing Palestinians. In 2004, Israel invested in upgrading the facility in the Jordan Valley and the Civil Administration gave it a permit to operate there, even though the site currently exclusively services Israeli and settlement waste.

    Meanwhile Palestinians have struggled to obtain funding and permits for landfills. All authorized landfills servicing Palestinians are funded by international donors. In one case, Israel has refused to retroactively approve a Palestinian site, and in another, it forces a Palestinian landfill site to accept waste from settlements established in violation of international law.

    More generally, settlement businesses provide employment to settlers, which is a key to attracting and maintaining settlers. Around 55,440 settlers—about 42 percent of the settlement workforce—are employed in public or private sector jobs in Israel’s settlements. Settlement businesses also pay taxes to settlement municipalities, thus contributing to the sustenance of the settlements. Although the tax rates are often lower than rates inside Israel, they still make up a sizable share of the municipality’s income.

    For example, the 2014 projected budget of the settlement of Barkan, which is associated with the industrial zone of the same name, anticipated that around 6 percent of its budget—350,000 shekels of a six million shekels ($87,500 of $1,500,000) budget—would come from corporate taxes, and that Barkan would take in another nearly million shekels ($250,000) in water taxes, a portion of which factories in the industrial zone would pay. In 2014, the subsidiary of a European cement company that owns a quarry in the West Bank paid €430,000 ($479,000) in taxes to the Samaria Regional Council for its operation of the Nahal Raba quarry.

    Without the participation and support of such private businesses that service Israel’s settlements, the Israeli government would incur much greater expenses to sustain the settlements and their residents. In this way, businesses contribute to Israel’s maintenance and expansion of unlawful settlements.

    How Businesses Contribute to and Benefit from Labor Abuse

    While all settlement-related business activity runs afoul of international standards on the human rights responsibilities of businesses, regardless of labor conditions, the lack of clear labor protections for Palestinians working in settlements creates a high risk of discriminatory treatment and other abuses. As noted, Israeli courts apply Israeli civil law to settlers, while Palestinians are subject to Jordanian law as it existed at the start of the occupation in 1967, except as amended by military order. In 2007, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that, in the case of labor laws, this two-track legal system is discriminatory, and Israeli law should govern employment conditions of Palestinians in settlements, giving Palestinian employees the right to sue their employers in Israeli courts for violations of Israeli labor laws. But the government has not implemented this ruling, and claims it cannot investigate and enforce compliance with these laws.

    The virtually complete lack of government oversight, as well as Palestinian workers’ dependency on Israeli-issued work permits, creates an enabling environment for settler employers to pay Palestinian workers below Israel’s minimum wage and deny them the benefits they provide to Israeli employees. Notwithstanding the international humanitarian law prohibition against applying Israeli law to occupied territory, Israel is obliged by international human rights law to ensure that all civilians under its effective control enjoy all human rights without discrimination according to ethnicity, citizenship, or national origin and therefore must bring conditions for Palestinian workers in settlements in line with those of settlers.

    According to the workers’ rights group Kav LaOved, at least half of settlement companies pay Palestinian workers less than Israel’s minimum hourly wage of 23 shekels ($5.75), with most of these workers receiving eight to 16 shekels per hour ($2 to $4), no vacation, sick days, or other social benefits, and no pay slips. Human Rights Watch spoke to one worker, Hani A. (pseudonym), who is employed in a factory in Barkan that produces Hanukah candles and plastic containers. He said he works 12-hour night shifts, receives only one half-hour break, and earns 8.5 shekels ($2.12) per hour. Another person, Mujahid, who worked in Barkan until September 2014, told Human Rights Watch he earned 16 shekels ($4) per hour and worked between 12 and 15 hours a day. He recalled one week during which he worked from 3 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    The report highlights the illustrative case of a textile manufacturer in Barkan that supplied linens to an upscale American home goods chain. In 2008, 43 employees, almost half of whom were women, sued the exporter, alleging they were earning hourly wages of 6 to 10 shekels ($1.50 to 2.50) and receiving no social benefits; women workers alleged they were receiving around 2 shekels less per hour than the men. The exporter settled all the cases out of court. The co-owner of the business claims that all employees currently receive minimum wage and full benefits under Israeli law. The exporter moved its facilities from the occupied territories in October 2015.

    Supporters of settlement businesses have argued that they benefit Palestinians by providing them with employment opportunities and paying wages that exceed wages for comparable jobs in areas where Israel has ceded limited jurisdiction to the Palestinian Authority. They have raised concerns that, in some cases, ceasing Israeli business activity in settlements may force the layoff of Palestinian workers. Some have even described settlement businesses as models of co-existence or an alternative path to peace through economic cooperation.

    The employment of Palestinians in settlement businesses does not, in any case, remedy settlement businesses’ contribution to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The cumulative impact of Israeli discrimination, as documented in this report and numerous others, is to entrench a system that contributes to the impoverishment of many Palestinian residents of the West Bank while directly benefitting settlement businesses, making Palestinians’ desperate need for jobs a poor basis to justify continued complicity in that discrimination.

    The World Bank estimates that discriminatory Israeli restrictions in Area C of the West Bank, most of which are directly linked to Israel’s settlement and land policies, cost the Palestinian economy $3.4 billion a year. These restrictions drive up unemployment and drive down wages in areas of the West Bank. Farmers in Area C are particularly hard hit by Israel’s unlawful and discriminatory land and water policies, causing many to lose their traditional livelihoods. Many Palestinians are therefore left with little choice but to seek employment in settlements, providing a steady source of cheap labor for settlement companies.

    The head of the village council of Marda, an agricultural village which lost much of its land to Ariel, told Human Rights Watch: “We used to have 10,000 animals, now you can barely find 100, because there is nowhere for them to graze. So the economy collapsed and unemployment increased.” As a result, many of the villagers now have little choice but to work in settlements, he said.

    ******

    As noted, many of the violations documented in this report under the four headings listed above are intrinsic to long-standing Israeli policies and practices in the West Bank. Companies operating in or with settlements cannot mitigate or avoid contributing to these abuses through their own operations. For this reason, Human Rights Watch recommends that, absent a radical shift in Israeli policies and practices that would allow businesses to operate in accordance with their responsibilities under international law, businesses should cease settlement-related activities, including operating in settlements or financing, administering or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure.

    The UN Guiding Principles provide that enterprises should undertake human rights due diligence to identify and mitigate the adverse human rights impact not only of their own activities but also activities to which they are directly linked by their business relationships. In the latter case, businesses should ensure that their supply chains are not tainted by serious abuses. A business would not necessarily be expected to completely sever all its relationships with another actor that is operating in the settlements, but it would need to ensure that its relationships are not themselves contributing to or otherwise inextricably bound up with serious abuses.

    Moreover, states have certain obligations given the nature of Israel’s violations in the West Bank. The Fourth Geneva Convention requires states to ensure respect for the Convention, and they therefore cannot recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories or render aid or assistance to its unlawful activities there. In an advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice found that states also have such obligations because Israel’s settlement regime—as well as the separation barrier, the main focus of the opinion—violate international laws that are erga omnes, meaning that all states have an interest in their protection.

    As a result, Human Rights Watch recommends that states review their trade with settlements to ensure they are consistent with their duty not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories. For example, states should require and enforce clear origin labeling on settlement goods, exclude such goods from receiving preferential tariff treatment reserved for Israeli products, and not recognize or rely on any certification (such as organic or health and safety) of settlement goods by Israeli government authorities unlawfully exercising jurisdiction in the occupied territories.

    In addition to states’ obligations under international humanitarian law, the UN Guiding Principles call on states to respect the principles and develop guidelines to implement them. A number of states are currently developing national action plans for this purpose. States should provide guidance to companies operating in conflict-affected areas, including in situations of military occupation such as the occupied Palestinian territories.

    To Businesses Active in Israeli Settlements
  • Cease activities carried out inside settlements, such as building housing units or infrastructure, the extraction of non-renewable resources, or providing waste removal and landfill services.
  • Avoid financing, administering or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure, such as through contracting to purchase settlement-manufactured goods or agricultural produce, to ensure the businesses are not indirectly contributing to and benefiting from such activities.
  • Conduct human rights due diligence to ensure that supply chains do not include goods produced in settlements.
  • To Israel
  • Abide by Israel’s obligations as the occupying power and dismantle settlements, including industrial zones and business operations, in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
  • Lift unlawful and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians in occupied territory that contribute to Palestinian poverty and unemployment, including restrictions on Palestinian land and development and extraction of natural resources. End any policies on the operations of business in the occupied territories that violate international humanitarian or human rights law, including those that permit the extraction of natural resources when this does not benefit the population of the occupied territory or is not strictly required by military necessity.
  • Cease providing financial incentives, including subsidies for development costs in settlements and lower tax rates, to Israeli and international businesses located in the occupied West Bank.
  • Cease registering the establishment or permitting the operation of Israeli or international businesses in the occupied West Bank unless the purpose of the operations is to benefit the Palestinian people and is consistent with international humanitarian law.
  • To Third-Party States
  • Assess trade with settlements and adopt policies to ensure such trade is consistent with states’ duty not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories. This includes requiring exporters to accurately label goods produced in settlements as such, excluding such goods from preferential treatment under Free Trade Agreements with Israel, and refraining from recognizing the Israeli government’s authority to certify the conditions of production of settlement goods (such as compliance with organic or other criteria).
  • Avoid offsetting the costs of Israeli government expenditures on settlements by withholding funding given to the Israeli government in an amount equivalent to its expenditures on settlements and related infrastructure in the West Bank.
  • Provide guidance on implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to companies operating in conflict-affected areas, including in the context of military occupations such as the occupied Palestinian territories.
  • This report examines Israeli and international companies engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements and the ways in which they contribute to and benefit from Israel’s violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the occupied West Bank. The scope of the report does not include the Golan Heights, although some of the analysis may be applicable there, nor does it include the Gaza Strip, since Israel removed its settlements from there in 2005.

    The five case studies of companies selected for this report highlight the wide range of business involvement in Israeli settlements, and the range of international legal prohibitions and human rights abuses implicated in each sector examined. The case studies are illustrative of the more general problem–none imply that the businesses described are the most problematic cases.

    In researching this report Human Rights Watch reviewed court decisions; data provided by the Civil Administration, Palestinian Authority officials, and non-governmental organizations; Israeli state comptroller reports; transcripts of Knesset committee meetings; and other documents.

    Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 Palestinians whose land was confiscated, expropriated or subject to significant restrictions due to settlements and related infrastructure; 25 Palestinians who previously worked or currently work in Israeli settlements; and eight Palestinian businessmen. Human Rights Watch also interviewed two Israeli lawyers and two Palestinian lawyers specialized in issues related to Palestinian employment in settlements, and an additional Palestinian lawyer specialized in land cases. An Arabic translator facilitated many of the interviews with Palestinians. Human Rights Watch consulted broadly with Palestinian and Israeli trade unions and workers’ rights and human rights organizations.

    All interviewees freely consented to be interviewed and Human Rights Watch explained to them the purpose of the interview, how the information gathered would be used, and did not offer any remuneration. In some cases interviewees requested to remain anonymous or to be identified only by their first names and first initial. The report indicates where pseudonyms are used.

    Human Rights Watch held some of the interviews with Palestinians in small group settings, including one larger group of seven farmers who own land Israel confiscated or made subject to restrictions. Researchers sought responses to questions about each case from the relevant companies, as well as the Civil Administration. Wherever possible, they took information about settlements from Israeli government sources. Human Rights Watch staff conducted field research for three weeks in December 2014 and ten days in March 2015.

    Human Rights Watch wrote letters to all companies that appear as case studies in the report, as well as Israel’s Civil Administration, sharing its preliminary findings and requesting relevant information. Two companies, Heidelberg Cement and a textile manufacturer, responded in writing; their responses are reflected in the report and are reproduced in the annex, unedited apart for the redaction of certain names. Human Rights Watch also met with a co-owner of the textile manufacturer and had a number of phone conversations with a representative of an American retailer that sources from the manufacturer; these conversations are reflected in the report. No other companies responded.

    Note on currency conversion: this report used an exchange rate of 4 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) and .90 euros per US dollar.

    In the immediate aftermath of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, Israeli civilians, supported by the Israeli government and protected by Israeli security forces, began moving across Israel’s eastern border to “settle” the land in order to claim it as part of “the Jewish state.” Today, the Israeli civilian presence has grown into a network of more than half a million settlers living in 137 settlements officially recognized by the Ministry of Interior, and more than 100 settlement outposts, which are unauthorized but still receive substantial state support.[5] The population of settlements grew 23 percent from 2009 to 2014, far outpacing growth of less than 10 percent in Israel overall.

    These virtually exclusively Jewish cities, towns, and villages are, for the most part, seamlessly assimilated into Israel’s infrastructure and economy, such that they appear almost indistinguishable from Israel. In 1967, Israel also directly annexed East Jerusalem, a 72 square kilometer area of the West Bank. This area remains occupied territory under international humanitarian law.

    Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, violate Israel’s international humanitarian law obligations and are a central feature of Israeli policies that dispossess, discriminate against, and forcibly displace Palestinians in violation of their human rights. While the Israeli government is responsible for the unlawful and discriminatory policies that enable and encourage settlement expansion, private actors, including Israeli and international businesses across all sectors, play a critical role in developing the land that Israeli authorities appropriate into settlement cities and towns.

    Israeli and international businesses choosing to locate in settlements and settlement zones, thereby becoming “settlers” themselves, make up a significant portion of Israel’s civilian presence on the ground. Israel administers approximately 20 industrial zones covering 13,650 dunams (1,365 hectares) in the West Bank, Israeli settlers oversee the cultivation of 93,000 dunams (9,300 hectares) of agricultural land, and settlement businesses operate 187 shopping centers inside of settlements as well as eleven quarries that supply around 25 percent of Israel’s gravel market. The geographic footprint of Israeli commercial activity in the West Bank exceeds the built-up area of residential settlements, estimated to be about 60,000 dunams (6,000 hectares). These numbers reflect the magnitude of commercial activity’s share in Israel’s civilian presence in the West Bank.

    By locating in, establishing, expanding, and supporting settlements, businesses contribute to Israel’s rights violations. Such businesses depend on and contribute to Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources, and facilitate the functioning and growth of settlements. The businesses also benefit from these violations, as well as Israel’s discriminatory policies that privilege settlements at the expense of Palestinians, such as by profiting from access to unlawfully confiscated Palestinian land and water, government subsidies, and Israeli-issued permits for developing land that Israel severely restricts for Palestinians.

    This report describes two types of businesses engaged in settlement activity to show how businesses across a range of sectors with varying involvement in settlements contribute to rights abuses.

    The first type of settlement business includes companies that manage the practical demands of constructing and maintaining settlements. Three of the report’s case studies fall into this type: a bank that finances and provides mortgages for settlement homes, a real estate franchise that sells them, and a waste management company that processes settlement trash. The direct contribution these companies make to Israel’s unlawful settlement regime is self-evident. As is discussed in more detail below in the chapter on legal obligations, the transfer of civilians, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power into the occupied territory is a war crime. Many such businesses also locate in settlements and depend on land and other resources that Israel unlawfully confiscated from Palestinians, thereby contributing to additional rights violations. Israeli settlements in the West Bank also entrench and benefit from Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinian residents in the West Bank. This is also discussed in more detail below in the chapter on discrimination.

    The second type of settlement business includes companies that engage in activities that do not directly provide services to residential settlements, yet nonetheless are based in settlements or settlement industrial zones. These businesses, which may be drawn by economic reasons, such as access to cheap Palestinian labor, low rents, or favorable tax rates, constitute the most significant commercial presence in settlements. They are principally manufacturers located in settlement industrial zones and agricultural producers, but this type also includes Israeli-administered companies engaged in extracting West Bank resources, such as quarries.

    In Human Rights Watch's view, such businesses also contribute to and benefit from Israel’s rights abuses. First, they support residential settlements by providing employment to settlers and paying taxes to settlement municipalities. Second, their large physical footprint and disproportionate consumption of resources substantially contribute to Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources. Third, settlement manufacturers and farmers benefit from Israel’s discriminatory policies and its violations of international humanitarian law–in fact, many may choose to locate in settlements to take advantage of the benefits conferred by these policies and violations.

    Many settlement manufacturers and agricultural producers rely heavily on exports, such that businesses around the world become implicated in the abuses described in this report through their supply chain. These imports also implicate third-party states in a way that other kinds of settlement businesses do not, since the settlement goods pass through their borders, frequently labeled as made in Israel and benefitting from tariff agreements between the importing state and Israel.

    The report includes two case studies of this second type of business. The case of a quarry highlights how settlement businesses benefit from Israeli policies that discriminate against Palestinians. The case of a textile manufacturer examines labor conditions for Palestinians working in settlement businesses. Because of the significance of settlement industrial zones and agriculture for international businesses and third-party states, an annex to this report provides an in-depth analysis of the scale and human rights impact of these sectors.

    The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide that enterprises should undertake human rights due diligence to identify and mitigate the human rights harm not only of their own activities but also activities to which they are directly linked by their business relationships. Businesses should ensure that their relationships with other businesses, including those in their supply chain, are not tainted by abuses.

    Many of the violations and abuses that companies operating in or with the settlements facilitate or benefit from are intrinsic to long-standing Israeli policies and practices in the West Bank and therefore beyond the control of companies to avoid or mitigate. For this reason, Human Rights Watch recommends that businesses cease settlement-related activities.

    Businesses should not locate in settlements, or provide financing, services, or other support to settlements; they should also cease trading with settlement businesses. A business would not necessarily be expected to completely sever all its relationships with another actor that is operating in the settlements, but it would need to ensure that its relationships are not themselves contributing to or otherwise inextricably bound up with serious abuses.

    Moreover, states have certain obligations given the nature of Israel’s violations in the West Bank. The Fourth Geneva Convention requires states to ensure respect for the Convention, and they therefore cannot recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories or render aid or assistance to its unlawful activities there. In an advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice found that states also have such obligations because Israel’s settlement regime—as well as its separation barrier, the main focus of the opinion—violate international laws that are erga omnes, meaning that all states have an interest in their protection.

    As a result, Human Rights Watch recommends that states review their trade with settlements to ensure they are consistent with their duty not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories. For example, states should require and enforce clear origin labeling on settlement goods, exclude such goods from receiving preferential tariff treatment reserved for Israeli products, and not recognize or rely on any certification (such as organic or health and safety) of settlement goods by Israeli government authorities unlawfully exercising jurisdiction in the occupied territories.

    International Humanitarian Law

    Settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs occupied territories: “The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The Fourth Geneva Convention also prohibits individual or mass forcible transfers of protected persons in an occupied territory, or their deportation from that territory. In 2004, the International Court of Justice, citing the Fourth Geneva Convention and other sources of international law, affirmed that “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

    The Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), includes among its list of war crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction “[t]he transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.”[16] Although Israel is not a member of the ICC, Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute on January 2, 2015, which entered into force April 1, 2015 for the territory of the State of Palestine. The Palestinian government lodged a declaration giving the court a mandate to investigate crimes committed in or from Palestine back to June 13, 2014. The United Nations General Assembly accorded Palestine non-member observer state status in 2012, allowing it to become a party to international conventions, but this does not change the legal status of the occupation.

    In almost all cases, settlements entail an additional international humanitarian law violation: Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources in violation of the Hague Regulations of 1907. Article 55 of the Hague Regulations makes public resources in occupied territory, including land, subject to the rules of usufruct. A generally accepted legal interpretation of these rules is that “the occupying power can only dispose of the resources of the occupied territory to the extent necessary for the current administration of the territory and to meet the essential needs of the [occupied] population.” According to the Israeli legal scholar Eyal Benvenisti, “there is little doubt today that this condition is binding on all uses of immovable public property.”

    Private property is subject to more stringent protection under international humanitarian law. The Hague Regulations state that “Private property cannot be confiscated” and the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of private property unless “absolutely necessary” for military purposes.

    Human Rights

    International human rights law has long established the basic principles of non-discrimination and equality. Discrimination is where laws, policies or practices treat persons in similar situations differently due to, among other criteria, race, ethnic background or religion, without adequate justification. States are obliged not to take any step that “has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms” based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin. The prohibition against racial discrimination is considered one of the most basic in international human rights law–the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states specifically that even in times of public emergencies, measures taken by states to derogate from other rights obligations must not “involve discrimination solely on the grounds of race ... or religion.”

    While Israel maintains that its human rights obligations do not extend to the occupied territories, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the body charged with interpreting and enforcing the ICCPR, has repeatedly found that “the provisions of the Covenant apply to the benefit of the population of the occupied territories.”[23] The International Court of Justice endorsed this view in its Advisory Opinion regarding Israel’s separation barrier: the ICCPR “is applicable in respect of acts done by a State in the exercise of its jurisdiction outside its own territory.”[24]

    With regard to the treatment of employees, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights specify that corporations have a responsibility to respect domestic law, in addition to, at a minimum, rights set out in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. These fundamental principles include a prohibition on discrimination, defined as the disparate and worse treatment of members of a group based on prohibited grounds such as ethnicity or national origin. Companies are expected to undertake effective due diligence measures to help ensure that they do not engage in discrimination themselves. Due diligence should also endeavor to ensure that other entities including a company’s suppliers and partners do not engage in discrimination that is directly linked to the company’s business operations, products or services by their business relationships.

    Israel’s “two-track” legal system in the West Bank, which applies a combination of Jordanian law and Israeli military orders to Palestinians and Israeli law to Israelis, violates the human rights prohibition on discrimination. Notwithstanding the international humanitarian law prohibition on Israel extending its domestic laws and enforcement authority to the occupied territories as though it were the sovereign there, international human rights law nonetheless requires Israel to avoid discrimination between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of the West Bank—or, in the words of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “to ensure that all civilians under its effective control enjoy all humanrightswithout discrimination based on ethnicity, citizenship, or national origin.”As the Committee noted, Israel denies that its human rights obligations extend to occupied territory,but went on to say that that position is inconsistent with the extended nature of the occupation.

    Both international humanitarian and human rights law strictly restrict a state’s right to forcibly transfer or displace people from one area to another. The Fourth Geneva Convention permits a state to evacuate civilians only for their own security or for “imperative military reasons,” and in that case the state must provide the displaced people with accommodation “to the greatest practicable extent” and allow their return to their homes as soon as possible. The prohibition of forcible transfer extends beyond cases where a military force directly and physically relocates a population under its control, to cases where the military force renders life so difficult for the population that they are essentially forced to leave. The ICTY Appeals Chamber has held that “forcible transfer” is “not to be limited to [cases of the use of] physical force” but that “factors other than force itself may render an act involuntary, such as taking advantage of coercive circumstances.”

    The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which Israel ratified in 1991, requires the Israeli authorities to respect the right to adequate housing. The Committeeresponsible for interpreting the ICESCRhas made clear that the right to adequate housing includes protection from involuntary removal from one’s home by the state (known as “forced eviction” under human rights law) unless the state can show it is a reasonable and proportionate step that complies with other human rights principles.

    Furthermore, in human rights jurisprudence on the right to property or possessions, regional courts, including the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights, have concluded that states should recognize as property, individual, family and group traditional use and occupation of buildings and lands, even where such property rights have not been formally recognized in property registries but where the occupier has been treated as having property rights for a long period of time. All property rights can be interfered with only when there is clear domestic law, the interference is for a legitimate aim, the interference is the least restrictive possible, and adequate compensation is paid. Permanent seizure or destruction of property can be justified only where no other methods are possible and compensation is paid.

    Business and Third-Party State Obligations

    Although governments have primary responsibility for promoting and ensuring respect for human rights, businesses also have a responsibility to avoid causing or contributing to human rights abuses. Companies have a responsibility to identify and mitigate potential human rights problems linked to their operations, and to ensure that victims of such abuses have access to an appropriate remedy. Human Rights Watch opposes business operations that cause, facilitate, exacerbate or contribute to serious human rights abuses or international humanitarian law violations, unlessthosebusiness operations are able to either eliminate that connection or ensure that the abuses or violations at issue are substantially mitigated or remedied.

    This principle is reflected in the United Nations “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which are widely accepted by companies and governments.Under the Guiding Principles, companies have a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as to “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” Companies are expected to undertake adequate due diligence to identify the potential adverse human rights impact arising from their activities and that of their suppliers, and to help ensure that victims have access to adequate remedies for any abuses that occur in spite of these efforts. Companies should refrain from doing business where serious adverse human rights impacts are unavoidable.

    Moreover, settlement businesses profiting from land and resources that Israel unlawfully appropriated from Palestinians may violate an international law prohibition–which also exists in many domestic legal systems–against an individual or company knowingly benefitting from the fruits of illegal activity. This principle is enshrined in Article 6 of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, which prohibits “the acquisition, possession or use of property, knowing, at the time of receipt, that such property is the proceeds of crime.” In his report on businesses profiting from Israeli settlements, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967 also analyzed such businesses’ responsibilities under international criminal law and found that businesses that play a causal role to Israel’s transfer of its citizens to settlements “in certain instances may be enough to make them accomplices of that crime.”

    Third-party states also have obligations under international humanitarian law. Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention provides that: “The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.” At a minimum, this creates an obligation for states not to act contrary to the Convention, and thus prohibits states from recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the territory it occupies.

    The International Court of Justice, in an advisory opinion regarding the legality of the separation barrier that Israel constructed in the West Bank, found that Israel’s settlement regime violates obligations under international humanitarian law “which are essentially of an erga omnes character,” meaning they apply to all states, and all states have a legal interest in their protection. On this basis, as well as states’ duty to ensure respect for the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the court concludes: “[A]ll states therefore are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They are also under an obligation, not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction.”[35] Although the focus of the case was the separation barrier that Israel constructed around settlements rather than the settlements themselves, the court affirmed that the illegality of settlements under international law and so the applicability of the same obligation not to recognize the unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s settlements, or to aid or assist Israel’s violations.

    Businesses contribute to and benefit from the two-tiered system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates in the parts of the West Bank that are under its exclusive control, which provides preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. Settlement companies contribute to Israel’s discriminatory policies by facilitating the presence of settlements, but they also directly benefit from discriminatory economic policies that, on the one hand, encourage settlement business by, for example, providing subsidies and low tax rates, while on the other hand stifle Palestinian businesses and the Palestinian economy by imposing discriminatory restrictions on them.

    The 1995 Oslo interim agreement gave Israel exclusive control over what the agreement called Area C, which covers 60 percent of the West Bank, while it ceded some control to the newly established Palestinian Authority in Areas A and B. Area C, which is the only contiguous area of the three areas in the West Bank, contains all Israeli settlements and substantial amounts of the West Bank’s water sources, grazing and agricultural land, and the land reserves required for developing cities, towns, and infrastructure. Areas A and B are made up of 227 cantons that include most Palestinian towns and cities. The interim agreement was intended as a temporary stage in preparation for Palestinian statehood within five years, but it still remains in effect, and Israel maintains full administrative and military control over Area C.

    A 2010 Human Rights Watch report, Separate and Unequal, documented Israel’s discriminatory laws and practices that favor settlers at the expense of Palestinians in Area C. It highlighted four major areas of discrimination—construction, zoning, and demolitions; freedom of movement; water; and land confiscation—the only discernable purposes of which appear to be promoting life in the settlements while in many instances stifling growth in Palestinian communities and even forcibly displacing Palestinian residents.

    The discriminatory nature of Israel’s settlement regime is not an incidental shortcoming but rather one of the occupation’s central features. In fact, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross’s 1958 commentary on the Geneva Convention, the convention’s drafters chose to prohibit an occupying power from transferring its citizens into occupied territory because of its close link with discrimination and economic harm against the local population: “Certain Powers,” it notes, “transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political or racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize these territories. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.”

    Encouraging Settlement Business: Government Financial Incentives

    Successive Israeli government have actively encouraged the migration of Israeli and international businesses to settlements by offering a variety of financial incentives that they do not provide to Palestinian businesses in areas of the West Bank under its control. A significant channel of government support is its categorization of most Jewish settlements and almost all settlement industrial zones as National Priority Areas (NPAs), a classification also reserved for areas within Israel facing economic hardship or located near a border. The government also provides support by investing in public infrastructure projects to help draw businesses to the area.

    NPAs are eligible for a series of financial benefits, which, according to the Ministry of Construction, have four aims: “(1) to alleviate housing shortages affecting many residents of Israel; (2) to encourage positive migration to these communities; (3) to encourage development in these communities; and (4) to improve the economic resilience of these communities.” From 1998 until 2002, Israel categorized all settlements as NPAs. The government drew a new map of NPAs in 2002 that included 104 settlements, but Adalah, an Israeli civil rights group, challenged it on grounds of discrimination, since only four of the 553 communities designated as NPAs were Arab (all inside of Israel). In 2006, the Supreme Court found that the map discriminated against Arab communities in Israel and ordered the government to come up with a new map within one year. Seven years after the court ordered it to do so, the government approved a revised map of NPAs, accepted by the court, which includes 90 settlements. Almost all settlement industrial zones are NPAs, as are 23 settlements in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea region, where most settlement agriculture is located.

    For NPA settlements, government benefits include reductions in the price of land, preferential loans and grants for purchasing homes, grants for investors and for the development of infrastructure for industrial zones, indemnification for loss of income resulting from custom duties imposed by European Union countries, and reductions in income tax for individuals and companies.

    In “urban” NPAs, which is the classification of most settlement NPAs, the government may subsidize up to 50 percent of development costs, up to 107,000 shekels (US$26,750) per housing unit, depending on the topography of the area. In “rural” NPAs, which include agricultural settlements in the Jordan Valley, the government may subsidize up to 70 percent of development costs, with a maximum of 150,000 shekels ($37,500) per housing unit, again depending on topography. First-time home purchasers in NPAs also benefit from subsidized mortgages and a beneficial mortgage interest rate of 4.5 percent. Many of these subsidies—such as for development and commercial infrastructure—directly benefit businesses located in settlements. In 2013, for example, the government gave development grants of 2.17 million shekels ($543,000) to a furniture company in Barkan and 937,000 shekels ($234,000) to a plastics factory there.

    Furthermore, companies in NPAs that qualify for “approved enterprise” status are eligible for special benefits from the Ministry of Economy over and above what they would otherwise receive. Approved factories can benefit from two potential packages: direct grants and national tax benefits. The first track offers companies 20 percent subsidies for any investment in real property. Alternatively, the tax track offers a reduced corporate tax rate of 6 percent in some NPAs (as opposed to 12 percent tax in other areas), beginning in 2015.

    Israel also encourages businesses to move to settlements by investing in public infrastructure to support them. Policy statements from the years during which Israel was first developing the settlement economy reveal that Israel intentionally provided settlement companies with financial incentives, including by designating settlements as NPAs and investing in necessary infrastructure, in order to encourage them to locate in the West Bank. In a 1982 Knesset meeting, Gideon Patt, Minister of Industry and Trade, said that his ministry had established six industrial zones in the occupied territories, in addition to small industrial buildings. “And we’re also pushing factories there,” he said. “They don’t fall from the sky. They come from encouragement.”

    Two years later Minister Patt spelled out what kinds of encouragement his ministry offers. He reported that the government succeeded in bringing 300 factories to seven newly established settlement industrial zones by building necessary infrastructure and by classifying these areas as NPAs, and designating some of the factories there as “approved enterprises,” thereby making them eligible for generous financial incentives. He also said his ministry was working to establish both regional industrial centers to serve centrally located settlements and industries linked to small settlements, “considering the employment needs of those communities.”

    Settlement agriculture businesses benefit from another type of economic incentive: the apparently deliberate failure of the government to collect land fees owed to it. According to the state comptroller’s report in 2013, the Civil Administration does not enforce a law requiring settlements to pay it leasing fees for 83 rural settlements on so-called “state land," resulting in a loss of 50 million shekels ($12.5 million) each year. In the words of the comptroller: "this is a fundamental failure on the part of all the parties involvedthat has persisted for many years." As far back as 2005, the Civil Administration acknowledged the issue and attributed it to a lack of manpower, yet, to date, the Israeli government has not allocated additional resources to collect leasing fees. In 2011, the Finance Ministry finally decided to establish a collection unit, but it appears that it has yet to implement this decision.

    Stifling Palestinian Businesses and Economy: Discriminatory Restrictions

    In contrast to settlements and settlement businesses, none of the Palestinian areas in Area C is eligible for National Priority Area (NPA) status despite being poorer and less developed than settlements. Nor do they receive most other basic government services that Israel provides to settlements, regardless of their NPA status. Many Palestinian communities in Area C rely on international funding to provide basic infrastructure, such as solar panels, schools, and water tanks. In fact, Israel’s policies of severely restricting Palestinian access to building permits and restricting farmers access to their land, described in more detail below, has the cumulative impact of forcing many Palestinians to leave Area C.

    Some of these Israeli policies also violate international humanitarian law related to land confiscation; construction permits, zoning and demolitions; water; and freedom of movement. These and other policies not only undermine Palestinian economic development, but also give a clear economic advantage to settlement companies compared to Palestinian companies.

    One of the principal methods Israel uses to restrict Palestinian development is its refusal in almost all cases to grant Palestinians permits to build on or develop land or to extract resources. The World Bank estimates that if Israel lifted administrative restrictions, such as on construction and resource extraction in Area C, it could generate $3.4 billion annually for the Palestinian economy, an increase of 35 percent in its GDP. The additional revenues would generate $800 million in government tax receipts, equal to half the Palestinian Authority’s debt. Instead, Israel refuses to issue any Palestinians a permit to harvest minerals such as potash and bromine from the Dead Sea, amounting to a nearly $1 billion loss annually. Israel also restricts Palestinian access to large areas of land it designates as settlement municipal areas, firing zones, or nature preserves, and strictly limits the amount of water it allocates to Palestinians, which the World Bank estimates costs the agricultural sector $704 million annually. A report by a group of Israeli, Palestinian, and international economists found that if an additional 100,000 dunams (10,000 hectares) of land were available for Palestinian development in the Jordan Valley, it could create between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs.

    Many Israeli policies that harm Palestinian businesses and the Palestinian economy are directly related to settlements. Israel has designated 70 percent of Area C for settlement regional councils (which are off-limits to Palestinian construction) and has approved master plans for Jewish settlements covering 26 percent of Area C. Israel also builds settlement infrastructure, such as roads, checkpoints, and the separation barrier, on expropriated Palestinian land, that at times increases Palestinian transportation delays and costs.

    Furthermore, Israel has developed building plans for Palestinians on only 1 percent of Area C, most of which has already been built up, and on this basis Israel in practice rejects almost all Palestinian building-permit requests without justification. According to the Civil Administration, between 2000 and 2012, Palestinians submitted 3,565 requests for building permits. Of these only 210 were granted. Israel also altered Jordanian planning laws in place in the West Bank so as to exclude Palestinians from participation in planning processes, while military orders create a separate planning track for settlers, who participate in planning their own communities.

    Since most of Palestine’s undeveloped lands are in Area C, Israeli land-use restrictions thwart the Palestinian construction sector and manufacturing, which requires open land for factories, and prevent Palestinians from benefitting from tourism near the Dead Sea or historical sites because they cannot build hotels, stores or other tourist infrastructure.

    Israeli policy and practice create economic hardship for many of the 300,000 Palestinians who live in Area C, because it is virtually impossible to obtain a permit even to build a simple shop. Palestinian structures built without a permit is much more likely to be demolished than unauthorized settlement construction, which is often retroactively authorized.

    The livelihoods of Palestinians in Area C are particularly affected by land restrictions since many are farmers and herders. According to a 2014 study conducted by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 24 percent of Palestinians in Area C are farmers and 10 percent are herders, and 24 percent currently work in settlements. A number of Palestinian residents of Area C told Human Rights Watch that many of those Palestinians working in settlements are farmers or herders who have lost access to their lands. In 2011, OCHA reported that families were leaving 10 of 13 communities it visited in Area C because Israeli “policies and practices implemented there make it difficult for residents to meet basic needs or maintain their presence on the land.”

    Palestinian public infrastructure projects, like roads, water and sewage lines, or other utilities that connect major towns or cities in Areas A and B, often must be built across Area C. Therefore, the Israeli military’s denial of construction permits in areas under its control also harms Palestinians in areas under nominal Palestinian Authority control, deepening Palestinian dependence on Israeli products and services. Rawabi, a partly completed $1 billion residential and commercial project northwest of Ramallah located almost entirely in Area A, is not yet habitable because the Civil Administration delayed for years approving the required permits to connect the town to water infrastructure in Area C; in February 2015, it reportedly promised to approve the water connection. The Jericho Industrial Zone in Area A has also experienced serious delays because the optimal route for a road to the zone crosses Area C, and Israeli authorities have not approved construction.

    Israel has exercised its control over Palestine’s borders in ways that raise the costs for Palestinian imports and exports, discriminating against and harming the Palestinian businesses in all areas of the occupied territories that engage in importing and exporting goods. Israeli authorities frequently subject imported goods destined for West Bank Palestinians to delays, resulting in additional storage and other costs. Israel often requires Palestinian producers, but not Israelis, to offload and reload goods that pass through Israeli checkpoints on their way to a port for export, which adds to the expense and time required for transport. Israel justifies these measures on security grounds, but they are nonetheless discriminatory since they target businesspeople solely on the basis of their national origin.

    Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to international markets also maintain Palestinian dependency on the Israeli economy. Palestinian businessman Amin Daoud, for example, said he stopped importing construction materials directly from overseas in 2012, because of unpredictable, long delays at the port and the associated storage fees. Now he buys everything from Israeli importers, he said, even though this reduces his profit margin and makes his goods less competitively priced. Daoud’s situation is not unique: according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 39 percent of exports from Israel to the occupied Palestinian territories are imported from third countries and resold to Palestinian consumers. UNCTAD estimates that this phenomenon, known as “indirect imports,” costs the Palestinian Authority US $115 million annually in lost customs duties, since Israel only transfers customs duties for goods whose original destination is the occupied Palestinian territory.

    Case Study: Quarrying in the West Bank

    The case of quarries in the West Bank is one example of the Israeli state’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinian businesses in relation to its treatment of Israeli and international businesses. Natural stone is sometimes referred to as Palestine’s “white oil” because of the potential economic value and abundant supply of this resource. According to the Palestinian Union of Stone and Marble, the industry currently provides 15,000 to 20,000 jobs and adds $250 million to Palestine’s GDP. The industry is by far Palestine’s largest exporter, making up 17 percent of all exports in 2011, and reaching 60 countries.

    Israeli restrictions, however, keep Palestinian businesses from tapping into the full potential of this industry. Most of the quarryable land, some 20,000 dunams (2,000 hectares) with a potential value of up to $30 billion, is located in Area C. According to the Palestinian Union of Stone and Marble, Israel has refused to issue any new permits to Palestinian businesses for quarrying in Area C since 1994, even though the Oslo Accords explicitly provide for Israel to consider a request for such a permit “on its merits.” Because of this, as of July 2012, only nine Palestinian quarries operated “legally” in Area C with the required Israeli military permission. The manager at one of these quarries told Human Rights Watch that the Civil Administration refused to renew his permit after it expired in 2012, as well as the permits of other authorized quarries. Palestinian businesses that operate unauthorized quarries are vulnerable to the confiscation of their equipment, which Israel returns only after the payment of hefty fines, and other measures that greatly reduce the businesses’ economic productivity.

    In a clear example of discriminatory treatment, Israel’s Civil Administration has, in contrast, licensed 11 Israeli-administered quarries and crushers in the West Bank, which produce 10 to 12 million tons of stone annually. The Civil Administration did not respond to a letter that Human Rights Watch sent requesting information on the justification for the difference in treatment. Furthermore, Israeli excavation of Palestinian stone for its own benefit is a violation of international humanitarian law applicable to occupation, and may amount to a war crime, as discussed in more detail below.

    Article 55 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 subjects the resources of occupied territory to the laws of usufruct, which limits an occupying power to using such resources for its military needs or for the benefit of the occupied people. According to the Israeli legal scholar Eyal Benvenisti, “It is generally accepted that the occupant may not use them for its own domestic purposes.” Recognizing this restriction, the occupying coalition authority in Iraq, in 2003, established the Development Fund for Iraq, which collected profits from Iraqi oil to be used for the benefit of Iraqis.

    In violation of this obligation, settlement quarries transfer 94 percent of their product to the Israeli market, and, according to a National Mining and Quarrying Outline plan prepared by Israel’s Ministry of Interior, it provides around one-quarter of the total consumption of quarrying materials for the Israeli economy. Israel collects royalties, at a rate of approximately $1.20 per ton, from the Israeli quarry owners, and settlement municipalities collect taxes. In 2009, the total royalties paid for the use of the quarries by Israeli parties was 25 million shekels ($6.25 million). According to a 2015 study commissioned by the Israel Land Authority, Israel’s gravel market is heavily dependent on Israeli-owned West Bank quarries: “If not for quarry activity in the West Bank, the industry would have been mired in a crisis from a lack of supply years ago, which would have serious implications beyond the rise in prices (such as harming the ability to implement construction and/or infrastructure projects due to a lack of raw materials).” This deficiency in supply could have been made up by Palestinian production, if not for of lack of access to permits and other restrictions. Data compiled by the Palestinian Union of Stone and Marble shows that, as a result of Israeli restrictions, Palestinian-owned quarries in the West Bank produce around one-quarter the amount of gravel as Israeli-administered West Bank quarries, most of which comes from a 50-year-old quarry that will soon no longer be productive.

    In addition to extracting Palestinian natural resources for Israel, settlement quarries allow Israel to externalize the environmental impact of extraction. In an interview with the New York Times, Itamar Ben David, chief environmental planner for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, explained that he believes one reason for “how big a portion [of quarried materials] is supplied to Israel by the West Bank . . . is clearly that planning regulations and environmental assessment are less strong in the West Bank than in Israel. In Israel, nobody wants a quarry near his residential property.”[100] In 2013, Israel’s comptroller found that the Civil Administration’s failure to properly regulate abandoned quarries in Area C has led to “serious ecological and environmental harm.”

    A Study in Contrasts: Nahal Raba Quarry and Beit Fajar Nahal Raba Quarry

    The Nahal Raba quarry is located on the western edge of the West Bank, on the opposite side of the 1949 armistice line from the Israeli city of Rosh Ha’Ayin. The German multinational Heidelberg Cement owns the quarry through its subsidiary, Hanson. The quarry, which opened in 1983, currently covers 600 dunams (60 hectares) of land that belong to the nearby Palestinian village of Zawiyah. Israel’s Civil Administration took control of the land by declaring it state land under its aggressive interpretation of an Ottoman law whereby land, even if privately owned, reverts to the state if not cultivated or otherwise used for three consecutive years. Pursuant to this provision, since the early 1980s, Israel has declared more than 750,000 dunams (75,000 hectares) to be state land. In 2004, Israel built the separation barrier in the area to encompass the quarry from the east, unlawfully diverting the route of the barrier into occupied territory from the pre-1967 armistice line. As a result, the quarry is seamlessly connected to Israeli territory, while the barrier separates the village of Zawiyah from its lands. There appears to be no other Israeli presence between Israel’s border and the separation barrier, suggesting that other interests rather than security concerns dictated the barrier’s incursion into Palestinian territory.

    Nahal Rabba quarry, operated by Hanson, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Cement, is one of eleven Israeli- and Internationally-run quarries located in Area C of the West Bank and licensed by the Israeli government. These businesses sell nearly all of the quarried stone in the Israeli or settlement markets. This is in violation of international humanitarian law which requires that such natural resources should only be used for the benefit of the (Palestinian) population of the occupied territory. © 2015 Private

    The quarry extracts dolomite and crushes it to produce around 4,000 tons of gravel per day; the gravel is used to produce concrete and asphalt, mostly for the Israeli market. Pioneer, an Australian conglomerate, operated the quarry from 1986 to 2000. In 2000, Hanson, at the time one of Britain’s leading construction material producers, purchased Pioneer. Heidelberg Cement, a German multinational and the world’s third largest cement producer, acquired Hanson, including its Israeli subsidiary, which operated the quarry, in 2007.

    Heidelberg Cement continues to own and operate Nahal Raba Quarry, despite reports in 2009 that it was looking to sell its West Bank operations (or possibly all of Hanson Israel). Hanson also owns concrete plants in two other settlements: Modi’in Illit and Atarot. The Israeli conglomerate Mashav, the parent company of Nesher, Israel’s sole cement producer, made a bid in July 2009 to acquire Hanson Israel, but Israel’s Antitrust Authority opposed the deal on the grounds that Hanson is one of Nesher’s largest clients.

    Heidelberg wrote in a letter to Human Rights Watch that, in 2014, Hanson paid around €3.25 million ($3.6 million) in royalties to the Israeli Civil Administration and an additional €430,000 ($479,000) in municipal taxes to the settlement Samaria Regional Council for its operation of the Nahal Raba quarry.
In the letter, Heidelberg defended its activities as fully complying with international law since the land was not privately owned, and emphasized that the royalties it pays Israel are transferred to the Civil Administration “for the benefit of residents of Area C.” It also noted that it employs 36 Palestinian residents of the West Bank who receive the same benefits and salaries as their Israeli counterparts and that another 25 Palestinians work on the site daily through a sub-contractor.

    The Israeli military commander successfully defended the Civil Administration’s licensing of quarries in the West Bank on similar grounds in a case the Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGO) Yesh Din filed with Israel’s Supreme Court in March 2009 against Israeli-administered quarries in the West Bank. The plaintiffs cited an earlier Supreme Court opinion to argue that Israeli-administered quarries in the West Bank violate international law. In the 1992 opinion, Justice Aharon Barak wrote:

    The Military commander may not consider the national, economic, and social interests of his country, inasmuch as they do not impair on its security interest in the area, or on the interests of the local population, even if the army's needs are its military needs and not national security needs in the broader sense. A territory held through belligerent seizure is not a field open for economic or other exploitation.

    A Heidelberg Cement Group truck, which says “Hanson” in Hebrew, leaves the Nahal Rabba quarry. © 2015 Private

    Israel’s Supreme Court, however, rejected the Yesh Din petition in 2011, although it recommended that in general the Civil Administration not approve new quarries. The court based its opinion in part on the theory that “traditional occupation laws require adjustment to the prolonged duration of the occupation,” and cited the employment of Palestinians as a benefit to the occupied population. The court also held that the Israeli military’s Civil Administration, which pledged to collect fees from the quarry operators, similarly operated for the Palestinians’ benefit.

    However, the provision of jobs to protected persons does not render other violations of international humanitarian law in occupied territory lawful, including facilitating settlements by paying them taxes. Moreover, as the petitioners pointed out, the Civil Administration, in reality, enforces Israel’s unlawful policies in Area C that restrict Palestinian land use, demolish Palestinian property without military necessity, and allocate land and resources to settlers. Heidelberg’s claim in its letter that its activities are lawful because the land on which the quarry is located was not privately owned is a red herring: the laws of occupation prohibit the occupying power from using any resources in occupied territory for its own benefit regardless of whether privately owned. There is an additional problem that neither Heidelberg nor the court addresses: Israeli-administered quarries benefit from Israel’s allocation of permits to them that it denies to Palestinians.

    Yesh Din requested an en banc review of its petition, a procedure by which especially important, difficult, or novel rulings are reheard by at least five justices. Seven leading Israeli international law scholars filed an amicus brief in support of Yesh Din’s petition, criticizing the court’s interpretation of articles 43 and 55 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 on the grounds that it “stands in direct contradiction with the laws of occupation in light of their wording, spirit and purpose.” The Supreme Court rejected Yesh Din’s petition for an en banc review, but held that the ruling does not constitute precedent.

    Beit Fajar Quarries

    Beit Fajar, a town located 10 kilometers south of Bethlehem with an estimated 13,500 residents, is one of the major centers of stone production in Palestine. About 80 percent of the workforce is employed in the stone industry, mostly in one of the town’s 150 stone workshops or the 40 quarries in the area. The majority of the cutting factories are in Area B, which is under Palestinian administrative control, but most quarries are located in Area C, and therefore require an Israeli permit to operate. According to four quarry managers and owners in the area, none currently has a permit to operate.

    In a few cases, Israel’s Civil Administration had continued to renew the permit for quarries that it had authorized to operate in the 1990s. In March 2015, Human Rights Watch reviewed documents showing that Israel refused to renew the permit of one of these quarries that expired in 2012. The quarry owner’s son, Jamal T. (pseudonym), who is the marketing manager, told Human Rights Watch that Israel apparently stopped renewing even these permits in 2012. “I’ve been going to [the Civil Administration office in the Israeli settlement of] Beit El once or twice a month since 2012, but they still haven’t gotten a permit. There used to be a few authorized quarries in this area–maybe five or six. But since 2012, no one has been able to renew his license,” he said.

    Human Rights Watch spoke with another quarry owner, Samer T., who said he’s been working in the quarry business since 2000 and currently owns three quarries in Area C near Beit Fajar. The Civil Administration has refused to give him a permit, although he continues to submit a request every year, he said. Naif, a third quarry owner, said he, too, has not been able to obtain a permit for his two quarries.

    Palestinian-owned quarry operating without a license in Area C of the West Bank. Israel’s Civil Administration has not issued a single license to a Palestinian for a new quarry in Area C since 1994, according to the Palestinian Union of Stone and Marble. The equipment of quarries operating without a license is vulnerable to confiscation by Israeli authorities. © 2015 Private

    Mousa Issa Ziada, who owns 10 dunams of quarries, told Human Rights Watch that he has been operating a quarry on his land from 1973, but the Civil Administration has refused to renew his license since 1998. The Civil Administration told him the reason for the refusal was the proximity of the land to a settlement. “I told them, give me a permit, and I’ll build a fence around my land,” he told Human Rights Watch. “But they still said no.” In most cases, however, the Civil Administration does not give a reason for rejecting a permit. Often it never formally rejects a request and keeps it pending indefinitely.

    Israeli authorities often confiscate the equipment of Palestinian businesses that operate quarries without a permit. In such cases the Civil Administration forces the businesses to pay stiff fines for the return of the equipment. Samer said Israeli authorities last confiscated his equipment in November 2014. At that time he said he paid the Civil Administration 17,000 shekels ($4,250) in fines to get the equipment back, in addition to $2,000 in lawyers’ fees. He said he now sleeps six nights a week in his office to watch over his equipment. “If there weren’t an Area C or an Israeli [occupation], I would be home every night” with my family, he said.

    Naif said the authorities confiscated his equipment four times, most recently in 2012. Faced with a 110,000 shekels ($27,500) fine, he said he was forced to sell half his remaining equipment in order to raise the money he needed to retrieve the confiscated equipment. Jamal said his family owns four unauthorized quarries in addition to the one that Israel had authorized until 2012. In 2013, Israeli authorities again confiscated their equipment from one of their unauthorized quarries, and since then they only operate on Saturdays. This is a common practice among Palestinian quarry owners, he and others said, since the personnel charged with confiscating equipment do not work on the Jewish Sabbath. Mousa told Human Rights Watch that in 2010, he began to operate only on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays because he was afraid the authorities would confiscate his equipment. The reduced hours didn’t save him:

    In 2011, on a Thursday afternoon, they came and took all my equipment. They stored it in [the settlement of] Kfar Etzion. I had to pay 51,000 shekels for 51 days in fines and storage fees. I kept working, but they came back again around a year later. They didn’t take my equipment but they forced me to leave and shut me down.

    Israel’s refusal to grant permits to Palestinian businesses operating quarries and its practice of confiscating equipment from quarry businesses operating without a permit contributes to the discrimination against and impoverishment of Palestinians, and stands in contrast to Israel’s treatment of Israeli-administered quarries. Samer said he moves some of his equipment back and forth between Areas B and C to avoid confiscation. “The gas, the wear on the equipment, the time, these are all costs,” he said. “I would be able to produce more efficiently if I didn’t have to hide. I would be able to hire, at a minimum, 30 to 40 more people,” he said. Naif said that he used to employ six people, but since Israel last confiscated his equipment, he works alone. There is also the lost productivity of quarries that operate only on weekends. “We go to trade shows abroad, and they want their material, but they can’t produce enough” because of the limited time the quarries operate, Jamal said.

    Human Rights Watch spoke to one Beit Fajar resident, Ibrahim, who says that a lack of employment opportunities have forced him to work in a nearby Israeli settlement. “If I would find work in Beit Fajar, I would leave the settlements in the morning,” he told Human Rights Watch.

    Development of Israeli Policies on the Palestinian Economy

    The discriminatory economic policies described should be seen in the context of a broader Israeli policy that for decades appeared to aim to make the Palestinian economy dependent on Israel’s as a means of retaining control over the occupied territories. In the years following 1967, the dominant Israeli economic policy with respect to the West Bank was to integrate the Palestinian economy into its own. It imposed its currency on the Palestinian territories in 1967 and since then has, for the most part, worked to increase shared infrastructure, the export of Israeli goods to Palestine, and the import of Palestinian labor to Israel. While the higher wages that Palestinians earned from working in Israel helped to improve Palestinians’ standard of living, the evidence indicates that Israel’s “integration” policy is part and parcel of its discriminatory policies that restrict potential Palestinian competition and foster Palestinian dependence on the Israeli economy – including, crucially, employment in Israel or its settlements.

    The main proponent of the integration approach was Moshe Dayan, who stated in 1968 while serving as defense minister:

    [W]e can create economic integration—link the electric grid, the water system, set up a joint transportation system ... It’s possible to organize this economically within one framework. Moreover, they can allow Arabs from Hebron to work in Beer Sheva because in Hebron there is unemployment and in Beer Sheva there is a need for workers ... They should connect the two entities, if we, on their part and for ourselves, do not want to sever connections with these areas.

    This integration does not connote equality. Instead, the Palestinian economy has been described as a captive market for Israeli goods, which the Israeli government reinforces through restrictions on potential local competition. In a Knesset meeting from 1987, then-Minister of Industry and Trade Ariel Sharon explained, in response to a question about the steps his ministry was taking to avoid the threat presented to the Israeli economy by potential Palestinian economic development, that his policy is to approve requests by Palestinian businessmen in the West Bank only when they align with Israeli economic interests:

    Requests to build factories from the [Palestinian] residents of Judea, Samaria [Israel’s official name for the West Bank outside East Jerusalem] and the Gaza Strip are strictly examined, as Israeli requests are examined, to comprehensively take into account Israeli industries, the needs of the Israeli market, and the potential for export.

    Sharon added that the threat of Palestinian competition “mandates the establishment of [Israeli settlement] industry in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.”

    A committee investigating Israeli economic policy in the Gaza Strip appointed by Defense Minister Moshe Arens in 1991 and chaired by the economist Ezra Sadan concluded that Israeli policy limited economic growth in Gaza to wages earned from Israeli businesses:

    Regarding wage-earners, priority was given to increasing their income by employing them in the [Israeli] economy within the ‘Green Line.’ Only rarely did the policy opt for developing an infrastructure and encouraging the creation of factories and employment within the [Gaza Strip] itself (e.g. the creation of the Erez industrial zone). No priority was given to promoting local [Palestinian] entrepreneurship or the business sector in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the authorities discouraged such initiatives whenever they threatened to compete with existing Israeli firms in the Israeli market.

    These integration-oriented policies changed significantly after 1994. During negotiations that culminated in the Protocol on Economic Relations (“Paris Protocols”) in 1994, Israel used Palestinian dependence on employment in Israel to gain economic concessions from the Palestinian Authority. At the same time, Israel began to pursue a policy of separating the occupied territories from Israel, restricting the number of Palestinian workers permitted to work in Israel and the settlements. A new report by the Bank of Israel, however, finds that Israel has been again reversing this trend, and that between 2010 and 2014 the number of West Bank Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements has doubled to around 92,000.

    Palestine remains economically dependent on Israel for employment as well as goods, and its export potential continues to languish. In 2011, Palestine imported almost six times the amount it exported; 86 percent of Palestinian exports (around $600 million) went to Israel and 70 percent of its imports (around $3 billion) came from Israel. A recent World Bank report documented that “the [Palestinian] manufacturing sector, one of the key drivers of export-led growth, has largely stagnated between 1994 and the present and its share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP‏) has declined substantially.”

    Settlements necessarily violate two separate laws of occupation: the prohibition on an occupying power’s transfer of its civilians into the territory it occupies and the prohibition on its confiscation of land and other natural resources in occupied territory for its own benefit. Based on the findings in the report, Human Rights Watch concludes that settlement businesses facilitate the growth of settlements, as discussed in the next section, but also depend on and contribute to Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land on a massive scale. In Human Rights Watch’s view, all businesses located in settlements and settlement industrial zones depend on, contribute to, and benefit from Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land, which violates international humanitarian law regardless of whether the land is privately owned or so-called “state land.”

    This section examines businesses involved in the settlement housing market, such as developers, banks, and real estate agents, because they play a central role in making the land habitable for settlers, thereby, in Human Rights Watch's view, sustaining and expanding the physical footprint of settlements. Many banks and real estate agencies are active in settlements, but, using the settlement of Ariel as a case study, it highlights the case of an Israeli bank financing the construction of six buildings on the outskirts of the settlement, and RE/MAX, a real estate franchise that markets homes in Ariel. Both businesses are also active in other settlements. The focus on these companies is not intended to single them out as particularly problematic, but rather to illustrate how companies involved in the settlement housing market contribute to abuses and violations of the laws of occupation.

    The section also examines how Ariel’s development is inseparable from Israel’s land confiscation policies, including its ongoing confiscation of private Palestinian land. An annex to this report looks at related restrictions on Palestinian farmers’ access to their land surrounding Ariel and the cost to their livelihoods.

    Ariel

    Ariel sits at the tip of a cluster of settlements extending 12 miles east of the 1949 armistice line (also called the “Green Line”), in the heart of the West Bank. Established in 1978, Ariel is one of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Its constructed area is five kilometers long but only 700 meters wide, strategically built to wind its way along a mountain ridge surrounded by Palestinian towns and villages on all sides. Its municipal area, at 13,346 dunams (1,335 hectares), is around four times larger than the built-up area. To its south, Ariel blunts the spread of the Palestinian town of Salfit, the largest Palestinian town in the vicinity which serves as a commercial and administrative center for the neighboring Palestinian villages. Ariel sits at the center of four of these villages: Haris to its west, Qira and Marda to its north, and Iskaka to its east.

    Ariel and its related infrastructure divide some of these villages from Salfit and from each other. One person told Human Rights Watch that because of Ariel and related closures, he must travel 20 kilometers to get from Marda, where he lives, to a neighboring village located only one kilometer away. Another person from Marda said that the military recently re-opened the road from the village to Salfit after a ten-year closure that turned a journey of less than six kilometers into a 27-kilometer one.

    The separation barrier, constructed by Israel in 2004, surrounds Ariel and other nearby settlements and separates Palestinians from 9,000 more dunams of their land. As a result, Israel effectively denies dozens of farmers the ability to cultivate lands practically engulfed by Ariel’s winding borders. According to Peace Now, 31 percent of the land encompassed by the separation barrier surrounding Ariel is private Palestinian land.

    Ariel cultivates the image of an Israeli city like any other: it is a “blossoming city” located “in the center of Israel,” according to the municipal website. Ariel’s official history emphasizes that it was established “with the approval and support of the Israeli government” in 1978, when “40 families, led by Ron Nachman, took up residence on top of a rocky and barren hill that would become the City of Ariel.” Currently Ariel is home to nearly 20,000 permanent residents and an additional 10,000 students who attend its university. However, it is located outside Israel’s internationally recognized borders, and its development is inseparable from a history of continuous dispossession of Palestinians from their land and restrictions on their freedom of movement. Private companies continue to play a large part in implementing the government’s plan and benefit from Ariel’s history of land confiscation.

    Case Study: Financing Settlement Construction

    A row of new construction runs along the southern perimeter of Ariel, filling in the last gap of open space abutting the road that rings the city. The construction was nearly completed on six buildings at the time when Human Rights Watch visited in September 2015. The buildings house 96 apartments in all, which the developer describes as a well located and environmentally conscious complex called Green Ariel (Ariel HaYeruka).

    According to an online brochure, an Israeli bank is financing Green Ariel through an “accompaniment agreement” with an Israeli developer. Such agreements, which govern most construction projects in Israel, provide the loan for the construction and protect buyers during the construction phase. The accompanying bank gives homebuyers a guarantee and deposits their payments in a dedicated bank account, while it monitors the financial status and development of the project. In some cases, the accompanying bank also holds the real estate property as collateral until the developer sells all the housing units in the project. Neither the bank nor the developer responded to separate letters from Human Rights Watch sharing their preliminary findings and requesting further information.

    Yet the construction site, like all of Ariel, sits on land that Israel confiscated in violation of international humanitarian law. Its likely inhabitants are Israeli civilians whose transfer into occupied territory has been enabled by the Israeli state, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    Nitham Shtayye, a Salfit farmer, showed Human Rights Watch documentation he said he had compiled of 173 plots of land belonging to Palestinians from Salfit around Ariel based on his interviews with the landowners; Israel completely confiscated some of the plots, he said, while it restricted access to the remaining plots. According to Nitham’s map, the land for Green Ariel abuts land that belonged to a farmer from Salfit named Abdul-Ghani Afaneh, who passed away. Nitham’s map does not extend to the built-up area of Ariel, but he told Human Rights Watch that Afaneh’s land extended to the area of Green Ariel.

    According to Abdul-Ghani’s brother, Ibrahim Afaneh, and Abdul-Ghani’s son, Dirar Afaneh, Israel confiscated around 70 dunams of Abdul-Ghani’s land in the late 1970s. “We used these lands to plant vegetables,” Ibrahim Afaneh said. “We planted wheat, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers. It provided income for the owners and others in the village. If someone had land that he wasn’t cultivating, he would lease it to others who would cultivate it, benefitting both people.” Dirar Afaneh still has 15 dunams of land, which provide nearly half his income, but Israel reduced his access to only two of these dunams when it constructed the separation barrier around Ariel in 2004. Ibrahim Afaneh’s son works in a settlement factory in Barkan.

    Businesses like this bank promote the fiction of Ariel as an Israeli city (rather than a settlement in occupied territory) and facilitate the settlement’s seamless integration into the Israeli economy. “From my real-estate perspective, Ariel is not part of Judea and Samaria. Ariel today is an Israeli city in every way,” the developer of Green Ariel explained in an interview with Haaretz.[161] In the same interview, he attributed his success in Ariel to getting ahead of other developers by being willing to operate, as he put it, “in an environment of uncertainty.” From a business perspective, that uncertainty expresses itself as financial risk. In Human Rights Watch's view, at least one element of that uncertainty may reflect the consequence of building on land acquired in violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

    A farmer in the Palestinian town of Salfit, Nitham Shtayye, mapped the plots of land that the Israeli military confiscated or to which it restricts access around the settlement of Ariel.© 2015 Private

    As explained above, the expansion of settlements through the construction of housing violates international humanitarian law. Companies invested in Ariel real estate like the Israeli bank and developer involved in Green Ariel not only benefit from Israel’s violations, they also, in Human Rights Watch’s view, facilitate them. In the six years through 2013, home prices in Ariel more than doubled, placing the settlement among the top 10 Israeli towns for rising home prices over the period, according to Housing and Construction Ministry figures. “Every developer who built in Ariel earned very good money there,” the developer said in the interview with Ha’aretz:

    It’s a good city for developers. The three components that determine the return – the pricing, the location and the timing – worked out in their favor. Three years ago, they bought the land in the city very cheaply, and its distance from Tel Aviv is identical to that of Hod Hasharon [a city within Israel] from Tel Aviv. A four-room home in Ariel that two years ago cost no more than 800,000 to 900,000 shekels [US $200,000 to $225,000], today costs 1.05 million [$262,500].

    Israel designated Ariel as a National Priority Area A, further reducing developers’ cost due to generous subsidies for the cost of construction.

    The bank is financing a number of additional large-scale construction projects in settlements, according to publicly available documents. It is financing at least 247 apartments or private houses, a commercial center and a park in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, as well as 38 apartments in Pisgat Ze’ev and 273 in Har Homa. The media widely reported on the planned expansion of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa settlements, due to the sensitivity of the area for a viable two-state solution. The bank’s website offers apartments for “pre-sale” in the settlements of Har Homa, Givat HaMatos, Modi’in Illit, and Pisgat Ze’ev East, which likely indicates that it is financing their construction. It also operates 18 ATMs and 23 service stations in settlements.

    Case Study: Settlement Real Estate

    As in housing markets everywhere, real estate agencies play an active role marketing and selling properties in settlements. In the case of settlements, they are marketing properties located on land obtained in violation of the laws of occupation to potential buyers whom international humanitarian law prohibits from being transferred there. This report examines, as an illustrative example, the case of one such real estate company: RE/MAX, a Colorado-based international real estate brokerage franchise. RE/MAX operates in more than 95 countries and claims to have the largest real estate business volume in the world. It also has a franchise in Israel, the country’s largest real estate brokerage network, according to its website; the franchise encompasses some 100 branches. One of those branches is located in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, and several other branches offer properties for sale or rent in settlements. The number of homes that RE/MAX offers for sale or rent in settlements varies; in November 2015, for example, it listed 80 properties in 18 settlements on its Israeli website. These listings included 12 properties in Ariel, at a total value of more than 13 million shekels ($3.25 million).

    RE/MAX Trend, a branch of a Colorado-based real estate franchise located in the Israeli town of Rosh Ha’Ayin, sells and rents homes in the settlement of Ariel. RE/MAX also has a branch in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. © 2015 Private

    Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel, like all settlements, are built on land that Israel confiscated and currently uses in violation of international humanitarian law. Like Ariel, which is discussed in detail above, the Israeli government established Ma’aleh Adumim on land that the military seized claiming it’s for military use, although the land was immediately used for civilian purposes. Israel first established the settlement as a residence for employees of Mishor Adumim, an industrial zone established in 1974.[172] Israel took most of the land now occupied by Ma’aleh Adumim by military order in 1975 and 1979, but it extended the settlement’s municipal boundaries in the 1980s and 1990s, in each case leading to the evacuation of Bedouins living around Ma’aleh Adumim.[173] Thousands of Bedouins living in the area, who relocated from southern Israel in the 1950s, remain at risk of expulsion, and Israel has demolished several of their homes and property.

    By advertising, selling and renting homes in settlements, both the Israeli franchise of RE/MAX and RE/MAX LLC, the owner of the global franchise network, facilitate and benefit from the transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied territory and the associated human rights abuses, contravening their rights responsibilities.

    Israel also effectively bars Palestinians in the West Bank from buying or renting in settlements, even in cases where Israel confiscated their land to build a settlement. A military order prohibits non-Israelis from entering settlements without a permit, thereby requiring Palestinians in the West Bank to obtain a permit to work there. Palestinians with Israeli citizenship or residency are legally allowed to live in settlements, but, according to the most recent census, only 400 live in West Bank settlements and slightly more live in settlements in East Jerusalem. Until 2008, Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, who, after Israel unilaterally annexed the territory in 1967, became residents of Jerusalem, but not citizens of Israel, needed special approval to buy property in settlements; the regulation has since been amended.

    Given the character of settlements as almost exclusively Jewish and the rules that effectively bar Palestinian residents of the West Bank from living there, agents selling property there effectively contribute to discrimination against Palestinians. The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, a body funded entirely by the Israeli government and under the direct control of the Prime Minister’s office, established and controls most settlements, with the stated purpose of “establishing and strengthening Jewish settlement in the country’s periphery through strengthening the hold on state lands given to it by the government.”

    The RE/MAX Israel website, which is entirely in English and Hebrew, does not list any Arabic-speaking agents in Jerusalem or Ma’aleh Adumim, the area where most of its settlement properties are concentrated. Human Rights Watch spoke with one RE/MAX agent who has two properties listed in a settlement in East Jerusalem. “I don’t buy from or sell to Arabs. It’s not racism, I just prefer not to deal with [them],” he said. He said he doesn’t know whether this violates any RE/MAX policies, and added: “I just share the profits with them; we’re like partners. They can’t make me sell to anyone.”

    Neither RE/MAX Israel nor RE/MAX LLC responded to a letter from Human Rights Watch sharing their preliminary findings and requesting further information. However, in a press release responding to a campaign by Code Pink, an anti-settlement advocacy group that criticized RE/MAX’s sales in occupied territory, the company’s headquarters clarified that it sold the franchise rights for Europe, which included Israel, in 1995.RE/MAX Europe then sold the rights to use the RE/MAX brand the same year to the current owner of RE/MAX Israel, Bernard Raskin. As a result, RE/MAX headquarters claimed it “has no contractual agreement with RE/MAX Israel.”

    However, RE/MAX retains control over any franchisee operating under the RE/MAX brand. According to regulatory files submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, RE/MAX Holdings, the publicly traded parent company of RE/MAX LLC, retains ultimate control over franchisees’ license to use its brand, trademark, promotional and operating materials, and concepts. RE/MAX Holdings has the right to reacquire a franchise and to resell or operate it if it fails to perform under the franchise agreement. Given such influence, the UN Guiding Principles would oblige RE/MAX to use it to conduct human rights due diligence throughout its supply chain, including by examining the activities of its franchises regardless of whether it has a broader contractual relationship with them.

    RE/MAX LLC’s influence over and responsibility for RE/MAX Israel is also reflected in its response to Code Pink. In that letter, RE/MAX LLC said that it “understands the serious nature of the controversy surrounding real estate operations in the West Bank and has been working to find a resolution that is acceptable to all parties.” It is not clear how the resolution it proposes in the letter, placing the West Bank within the master franchise for the country of Jordan, would address the problems identified in this report, but it nevertheless demonstrates its influence over its franchisees.

    Moreover, RE/MAX LLC receives financial benefits from RE/MAX Israel’s sale of properties in settlements. According to its SEC filings, RE/MAX LLC “generates revenue from continuing franchise fees, annual dues, broker fees, franchise sales and other franchise revenue and brokerage revenue.”[184]Human Rights Watch calculated that the total value of the real estate offered for sale in settlements on their website on November 28, 2015 was around 145 million shekels ($36.25 million). Presumably, RE/MAX will not sell all of these listings, but these listings capture only one moment in time and new settlement listings are regularly added to its website. It is unclear what amount of revenue from these sales and rentals, or from broker or other fees from the RE/MAX branch located in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, are realized by RE/MAX LLC, and the company did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s request for this information.

    The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967 came to a similar conclusion in a report he presented to the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 assessing the responsibilities of businesses operating in the occupied territory under international law. The report concluded that RE/MAX International (which appears to refer to RE/MAX LLC) provides “international brand name affiliation and recognition, start-up training, ongoing training, technological resources, and advertising and marketing” to the Israeli franchise; profited from such sales; and generally, “has constant interaction [with] and influence over its franchises.” As such, he found that RE/MAX International and RE/MAX Israel are “directly contributing to” violations of international humanitarian law and adverse human rights impacts, and they should therefore cease selling or renting properties in the occupied territories. If RE/MAX LLC was not previously aware of their franchise’s settlement activity, the report put it on notice, bolstering its responsibility to take action.

    Land Confiscation

    The history of Ariel’s establishment and expansion demonstrates how Israel’s settlement policies go hand-in-hand with its policies of confiscating Palestinian land and restricting Palestinians’ freedom of movement, including farmers’ ability to freely access their land. Since expansion would be difficult without companies that finance, construct, rent and sell the real estate, in Human Rights Watch's view, companies involved in building new homes in settlements, or attracting new residents, contribute to or benefit from the inevitable violation of Palestinians’ rights that settlement expansion entails.

    Background: The Fiction of State Land

    In September 1967, three months after the start of the Israeli Occupation, Theodore Meron, who served as legal counsel to Israel’s Foreign Ministry at the time and later became president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, submitted a legal opinion to the government stating that settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, and recommended that any transfer of Israeli citizens to the occupied territories be “carried out by military and not civilian entities . . . in the framework of camps and is, on the face of it, of a temporary rather than permanent nature.”

    Throughout the 1970s, the military confiscated large areas of land under its control, including private Palestinian land, citing security purposes and transferred it for the construction of Jewish settlements. A group of employees in the aircraft industry, calling themselves the Tel-Aviv Group, first sought to build a large urban settlement in the “heart of Samaria” in 1973, but the government approved it only after the Likud came to power in 1977. In 1978 and 1979, the military issued three orders seizing a total of 4,613 dunams (461 hectares), which were then used for the establishment of Ariel. Israel first defined the site of the settlement as a military base, even while the Ministry of Housing and Construction built houses for the civilian settlers there; the government declared Ariel a local municipal council in 1981.

    Israel’s method for taking control of Palestinian land for settlement expansion shifted following a Supreme Court decision in October 1979, known as the Elon Moreh ruling, which held that the government’s practice of transferring private lands confiscated on security grounds to settlements violates international law, since an occupying power is permitted to confiscate land only for security purposes or for the benefit of the occupied population. The Israeli government responded to this ruling with a unanimous decision nonetheless to continue settlement expansion in the occupied territories.

    Israel implemented a new set of rules to enable it to appropriate Palestinian lands for Jewish settlements. In the early 1980s, Israel revived an Ottoman-era law under which the government can declare land that was not considered “private” or had not been cultivated in three years as “state land.” In the decades since Israel implemented this policy, the Civil Administration designated huge tracts of the West Bank, amounting to some 1.3 million dunams (130,000 hectares), as state land and transferred around half of this land to settlements or Israeli business interests, and only a small amount to Palestinians. In 2013, the Supreme Court compelled the Civil Administration to release documents revealing that since its establishment in 1981, it allocated a mere 0.7 percent of land designated as state land to Palestinians. In contrast, it allocated 400,000 dunams (30 percent) of the land to the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, which is responsible for establishing residential and agricultural settlements; 160,000 dunams (12 percent) to the government-owned Mekorot water company, Bezek communications company, and Israel Electric Corporation; and 103,000 dunams (8 percent) to mobile communications companies and local governments.

    Some of the land Israel declared as belonging to the state overlapped with land it had already seized by military order in the 1970s. In Ariel, Israel appears to have made such a declaration in the mid-2000s, designating as state land an area that overlaps with land seized in the 1970s. This declaration, however, did not include a large area of land previously seized and developed; photographs from the 1970s show that Palestinian farmers cultivated at least some of this area.

    Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land for settlements violates international law regardless of whether it is privately owned. Yet Israel’s Supreme Court has refrained from ruling on the legality of Israel’s policy of building settlements on land it designates as belonging to the state on the basis that it is a political question beyond its jurisdiction, effectively allowing it to continue unhindered.

    The head of the village council of Marda, Osama Khafush, told Human Rights Watch that the cumulative loss of the village’s land to Ariel has been devastating. The village, which according to villagers dates back to Roman times, is located on the northeast border of Ariel; village legend is that the name Marda, which comes from the word “rebellion” in Arabic, is a reference to the villagers’ support of Saladin’s conquest of Palestine in the twelfth century. The center of the village, which has a population of 3,000, is in Area B, and therefore under Palestinian administrative control, but all the surrounding land is in Area C, much of which Israel confiscated for the expansion of Ariel or divided from the village by the separation barrier built around Ariel in 2004. Traditionally, residents of Marda have earned a living almost exclusively from farming and herding, so the loss of land has forced villagers to find alternative employment, Khafush said. “We used to have 10,000 animals, now you can barely find 100, because there is nowhere for them to graze. So the economy collapsed and unemployment increased.”

    Confiscation of Private Palestinian Land

    Despite the 1979 Supreme Court decision, the Israeli government, frequently working in close collaboration with settlers, continues to transfer private Palestinian land to settlements. The Israeli NGO Peace Now, using data provided by the Civil Administration, calculates that the percentage of settlements built on private Palestinian land remained virtually unchanged after the Elon Moreh decision. Israel’s ongoing confiscation of privately held land violates additional international humanitarian and human rights laws and contributes to the impoverishment of Palestinians. The Hague Regulations categorically prohibit the confiscation of private property and the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of private property unless “absolutely necessary” for military purposes. Relatedly, Israel severely restricts thousands of Palestinian farmers from accessing their land located near settlements, causing the land to lose most of its productive value and costing farmers their livelihood.

    Israel uses a number of methods to continue its confiscation of private Palestinian land for the expansion of settlements. Most Palestinian landowners in the area around Ariel have tax documents proving ownership, but do not have a formal deed, called a “tabou,” to the land, since under Jordanian rule these tax documents were recognized as sufficient. However, according to Israeli judicial and military practice and policy, all land not formally registered can be declared state land. The onus is then on the private landowner to prove ownership through a lengthy and expensive process that typically includes producing tax documents, gathering testimonies from neighbors and local officials, and paying for a court-approved survey of the land. Israeli courts frequently decide against the landowner. Even if ownership can be proved, the landowners must have cultivated at least 50 percent of the parcel within the prior three years or the land reverts to the state without compensation to the owners.

    Yousef Mohamad Wanni, a farmer from the village of Marda, told Human Rights Watch that his father owned more than 1,000 dunams (100 hectare), but he lost almost all of it over the years to Ariel. “They took it little by little,” Wanni said.

    In the beginning [in 1978 and 1979], they took 100 dunams and put caravans there. In the 1980s, they put a barbed wire fence around more land; they didn’t confiscate the land, but declared it a closed military zone. Then they started building on it. Each time they would move the fence [to encompass more land], they would say it’s for security reasons.

    According to Wanni, each time Israel confiscated more land from his father, he would file a complaint at the local Israeli military court, producing all of the required evidence of ownership, yet he lost each of the cases. Only 60 dunams remain, 30 of which are behind the separation barrier built in 2004, and which he may access only twice a year, he said.

    Human Rights Watch spoke to Suleiman Shamlawi, from the nearby village of Haris, who said his family owned 215 dunams (22 hectares) of land on which large parts of Barkan industrial zone, which is adjacent to Ariel, were established. According to Suleiman, there were several houses on his family’s land as well as a stone quarry that his family operated before the Israeli military confiscated the land in 1981. Israel declared the land state land on February 2, 1981, claiming it had conducted an investigation and determined the land was not privately owned. Suleiman, like most Palestinian landowners in that area, had not formally registered his title before 1967, although he has tax records that were recognized as proof of ownership by Jordanian authorities at that time. After a protracted court battle, during which Israel approved and subsidized the construction of factories on the land, Israel’s Supreme Court held that Suleiman had sufficiently proved his ownership and could register the land with the Israeli authorities. However, in 2006 a settler organization claimed that they had bought the land, and produced a sales contract from 1963 purporting to show that Suleiman’s father sold the land to a Palestinian. In 2007, the Committee for Initial Land Registration, the Israeli military body charged with registering Palestinian land, rejected the settlers’ request to register the land, finding its claim of ownership lacked credibility. Suleiman insists that the sale contract is a forgery, and points out that the contract appeared years into litigation, and the purported buyer was only 10 years old at the time of the sale.

    According to Suleiman’s lawyer, following the rejection of the settlers’ request, the Israeli army issued a military order confiscating the part of Suleiman’s land already housing factories in Barkan, some 170 dunams. Shamlawi was thus permitted to register only 42 dunams of undeveloped land in his name, although the settler organization continued to object to Suleiman’s claim and sought to develop the land. According to Suleiman and his lawyer, in 2009, settlers came to his house with a bulldozer, threatening to demolish it if he did not drop his case. In October 2014, after pursuing the case for more than three decades, Suleiman won a partial victory: the land registration committee cast strong suspicions on the settlers’ claims and agreed to register in Suleiman’s name 42 dunams that had not yet been developed and allocated to businesses in Barkan.

    The case has cost Suleiman significant time and money. The fees for filing for registration and surveying the land alone cost him 6,300 shekels ($1,575), he said. The expense of court costs and lawyers, pressure from the military and from settlers, and low expectations that Israeli courts will do justice to their claims discourages Palestinians from filing lawsuits like his, Suleiman said, even though “a lot of the land on which Barkan was built was previously cultivated by Palestinians.”

    Another way in which settlers continue to establish and expand settlements, including Ariel, on private Palestinian land is by purchasing, or claiming to purchase, the land from its owners. Even in cases in which the sale is legitimate, it does not alter the legal status of the land as occupied territory, and the relevant international humanitarian laws continue to apply. Moreover, there have been a number of cases in which settlers’ claims rely on dubious documents or sellers who are not legally entitled to sell the land in question. Palestinian landowners are forced to invest considerable time and money defending themselves against such challenges, and victory is far from guaranteed given the difficulty of proving the absence of a sale.

    In March 2013, a settlement development company applied to register as the owner of at least 120 dunams (12 hectares) abutting the Ariel side of the separation barrier. The land has belonged to the Afaneh family, a large family from Salfit, for at least 100 years, according to Mamdouh Afaneh. Mamdouh and his seven siblings inherited the land after his father, Abdul Ra’uf Afaneh, died in 1963. The settler development company claims it bought the land, and produced a copy of a company check, dated February 28, 2002, in the amount of 100,000 shekels ($25,000). Mamdouh says he does not know the purported seller, a Palestinian who is not from the Afaneh family and who was previously a West Bank resident but has apparently since received Israeli citizenship. He further contends that because all eight siblings are co-owners of the property, they cannot sell it without the agreement of all of them.

    The settlement company claims that it purchased the land from the original owner, although it has not produced the sales contract. The Afaneh siblings must now prove ownership of the land in court, a difficult and expensive process that includes paying for a court-approved surveyor. The family appealed to the Salfit governorate to help with the cost, which it finally agreed to do, despite being so cash strapped that, at the time of Human Rights Watch’s visit, it did not have enough money to pay for gasoline for its staff. The investment in the case is difficult to justify, Mamdouh said, since he has little confidence he can win the case. “It’s my word against the settlement company, and it is more powerful so it will win,” he told Human Rights Watch.

    Finally, the Israeli government has repeatedly facilitated the establishment of settlements without permits, and therefore without an official investigation into the status of the lands, and then retroactively approved them. An investigation commissioned in 2005 by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and headed by Talia Sasson, a Justice Ministry official, found that the Israeli government frequently violated its own legal distinction between state and private lands and diverted millions of shekels of state funds to the World Zionist Organization to support unauthorized settlement “outposts,” many of which were built on land that Israel itself had designated as private Palestinian property. Israel subsequently approved many of these unauthorized outposts. In a more recent case, Israel’s defense minister approved the government’s request to legalize the outpost Netiv Ha’Avot in April 2014 despite a government survey indicating that 60 percent of the outpost was built on privately owned Palestinian farmland, according to Israeli media reports. Though rare, Israel has removed unauthorized outposts, usually following court decisions ordering the government to do so.

    Businesses involved in the expansion of settlements contribute to the violation of Palestinian rights in addition to the rights of landowners from whom Israel appropriated land. Palestinians are virtually cut off from vast areas of land, much of which Israel recognizes to be private Palestinian land, by a network of fences that surround settlements. For example, since Ariel’s establishment, Israel built three security fences around it, most recently the separation barrier in 2004, in each case expanding the area enclosed. As documented in an annex to this report, these restrictions have cost thousands of Palestinian farmers their livelihoods, further demonstrating, in Human Rights Watch's view, private interests’ involvement in settlement expansion harms Palestinians.

    The harmful impact of Israeli settlements and their residents extends beyond the land on which their houses are located. Settlements require roads, transportation systems, telecommunication services, and other goods and services. Private actors provide many of these needs, thereby contributing to the unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and resources. These companies also facilitate the presence of settlements by making them sustainable. In Human Rights Watch’s view, businesses servicing settlements often benefit from Israel’s discriminatory policies and practices that harm Palestinians while privileging Jewish Israelis.

    For example, like all settlement businesses, these companies operate in territory subject to military rule, and they require the approval of the Civil Administration to operate. Israel distributes these permits on a discriminatory basis, readily issuing permits for providing services to Israeli settlements while granting them rarely, if at all, for providing similar services to Palestinians. Businesses located in settlements also help make settlements financially viable by paying taxes to their municipalities and providing jobs to settlers, regardless of whether their activities directly service settlements.

    Storks rest on mounds of garbage in a landfill in the Jordan Valley. Located in the occupied West Bank, the landfill exclusively services Israel and settlements. © 2015 Private

    Case Study: Waste Management

    The rapid growth of settlements gives rise to increasing amounts of settlement waste. The management of settlement waste demonstrates how companies not only help sustain settlements, but also benefit from Israeli policies that privilege settlements and contribute to additional confiscation of Palestinian land. For example, there is a landfill located in the Jordan Valley, on land registered by Israeli military authorities as absentee (Palestinian) property, according to the mayor of the adjacent Palestinian town of Il-Jiftlik. The landfill exclusively services settlements, including Ariel and Barkan, and cities inside Israel. The site was first established in the 1990s without an approved plan or proper environmental procedures, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem. In 2004, the government upgraded the status of the site and invested in building a proper facility there that can process 1,000 tons of garbage a day.

    The waste management company provides no services to Palestinian areas, but only to Israeli cities, towns and settlements. In Human Rights Watch’s view, the company benefits from and contributes to discriminatory Israeli planning policies and practices in the West Bank that have created a severe shortage of landfills needed to meet the needs of the Palestinians. Salfit, the Palestinian town directly south of Ariel, and the surrounding Palestinian villages are forced to dispose of their waste in unauthorized sites due to a lack of alternative options. According to the director for local affairs in the Salfit governorate, Jamal Ahmad, the Civil Administration impounded two garbage trucks as they were leaving the villages of Iskaka and Bidya, in January and February 2015, as a penalty for dumping garbage in unauthorized sites in Area C, and fined the governorate 4,000 shekels (US$1,000) in each case. Jamal told Human Rights Watch: “We asked: ‘where are they expected to throw their garbage?’ They said, ‘That’s your problem.’”

    The most suitable sites for waste disposal for Palestinian communities are located in Area C, and therefore require Israeli permits to establish and operate. These permits have proven elusive. There are currently three landfills for Palestinian waste operating with a permit in Area C: one near Jenin, another near Bethlehem that the World Bank Group funded, and a third near Jericho. A plan for a fourth site near Ramallah, to be funded by the German Bank for Development (KfW), is currently frozen, apparently due to a dispute with the Civil Administration over settler use of the site.

    In the case of the landfill near Bethlehem, called al-Minya, the Civil Administration refused to approve the site unless it agreed to process waste from the Israeli settlements, a demand that if granted would involve the World Bank in subsidizing waste removal for settlements established in violation of international law. After a two-month delay, Israel ultimately agreed to issue a permit for the landfill without reference to settlers’ waste, and al-Minya began operating in March 2014. However, according to the World Bank, “settlers’ waste in limited quantities is transferred to the site with military escort, despite absence of agreement with the Palestinians.”

    In another case, the Civil Administration ordered the closure of al-Bireh landfill site near Ramallah and around 25 kilometers north of Jerusalem. It operated for decades without a permit, serving both al-Bireh and nearby Israeli settlements. In 2010, al-Bireh dumped 13,380 tons of waste there, while the settlements dumped 29,478 tons. The site also lacked the proper infrastructure, and Israeli authorities ordered it to close down due to its adverse environmental and health impact. Al-Bireh municipal officials contend that the Civil Administration first threatened to shut the site in 2011, after the municipality opposed the Civil Administration’s plan to extend the landfill in close proximity to homes in al-Bireh. The Civil Administration has refused to approve the proposed KfW-funded site, which was intended to replace the closed site. The settlement association for environmental quality supported the Palestinian municipality in opposing the site’s closure without an appropriate alternative, since the health and environmental consequences of haphazard, small-scale dumping in diverse locations – which would inevitably result from the dump’s closure – would be worse than the impact of continued operation of the current site. In contrast, the Jerusalem municipality approved a new landfill in a politically sensitive area in occupied East Jerusalem to serve Jerusalem and nearby Israeli areas. The facility will be constructed on 520 dunams (52 hectares) of mostly private Palestinian land and will lead to the eviction of 120 Bedouin who live there, according to media reports.

    In this context, in Human Rights Watch's view, the company operating the settlement landfill site facilitates and benefits from multiple human rights violations: it is a civilian site, not required for reasons of military necessity, established by an occupying power on confiscated Palestinian land, and its operation facilitates the presence of Israeli civilians in occupied territory by servicing settlements. Moreover, the company contributes to Israel’s disposal of its waste in occupied territory, by processing waste from areas inside Israel.

    Providing Employment and Taxes

    Settlement businesses provide an important source of employment and taxes essential to drawing new settlers and sustaining settlements. The distance of some settlements from economic centers in Israel, as well as the political-social divide that keeps settlers from seeking employment in Palestinian areas in the West Bank, makes local employment opportunities, such as in settlement businesses, an important factor for drawing and maintaining settlers. According to official data, in 2013, there were 126,600 employed persons living in Israeli settlements, of which 42 percent—some 53,300 people—worked in settlements. It cannot be determined exactly how many jobs are provided by private commercial activity in the settlements, as opposed to the public sector. But, particularly for the settlements located farther away from Israel proper, settlement businesses provide employment opportunities that help to sustain and expand settlements.

    Creating employment opportunities in settlements has long been a key concern of government officials eager to maintain and attract settlers, and it has justified its support for settlement businesses on this basis. In a Knesset meeting in 1984, the Minister of Industry and Trade Gideon Patt explained:

    The Ministry’s policy regarding the industrial development in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is intended to facilitate the economic development of Israeli settlements, by creating productive employment opportunities to meet the needs of the existing population as well as plans for expansion […] which are suited to the types of occupation, the number of residence, and their potential for growth. Industrial development is done in a controlled and balanced way, taking into account the workforce located in the settlements, with a view to maximize the number of residents who find employment near their homes. This approach is aimed to correct the current situation, in which a significant portion of the population still continue to earn their living far away from their homes.

    Despite the government’s efforts, “Judea and Samaria” remains the district with the highest percentage of Israeli residents employed outside their hometown and home district, partly because many settlements function as suburbs of Israeli cities and settlers commute to jobs there. However, in part due to government policies encouraging investment in settlements, today settlement businesses employ tens of thousands of settlers.

    Settlement businesses provide not only jobs but also tax revenues for settlement municipalities. Companies pay annual property taxes, called arnona, to local governments. The amount varies by their type and location. In Ariel, for example, business offices pay annual taxes of 119 shekels ($29.75) per square meter in some areas of the settlement and 160 shekels ($40) in other areas. Industrial buildings pay less—between 52 and 75 shekels ($13 and $18.75) per square meter—while banks, financial institutions and insurance companies pay between 512 and 846 shekels ($128 and $211.50) per square meter, depending on the area. In 2014, the projected budget of the settlement of Barkan, which is associated with a large industrial zone of the same name, anticipated that around 6 percent of its budget–350,000 shekels of a six million shekels ($87,500 of $1,500,000) budget–would come from business’ taxes. The settlement is expected to take in another nearly million shekels ($250,000) in taxes on water consumption, a large portion of which factories in the industrial zone would presumably pay.

    While, in Human Rights Watch's view, the evidence documented in this report describes how all settlement-related business activity runs afoul of businesses’ human rights responsibilities regardless of labor conditions, settlement businesses often exploit the legal ambiguity of settlements under Israeli law to employ Palestinian workers under worse conditions than they would be able to employ Israelis. Israeli officials have frequently dismissed the Green Line as irrelevant when it comes to settlement construction, yet when it comes to labor protections, Israel maintains the Green Line as a pretext not to apply labor law provisions that would protect Palestinian workers. This policy has the additional effect of keeping labor costs down.

    According to the Israeli workers’ rights NGO Kav LaOved, at least half of settlement employers pay Palestinians less than Israel’s minimum wage and deny them the social benefits such as medical insurance and sick time that they offer to Israeli employees. One reason for the persistence of labor abuses is that government regulators conduct virtually no inspections to enforce labor laws in settlements as a result of the ambiguous legal status of Palestinian workers in settlements. A 2007 Supreme Court decision held that Israeli labor law should apply to Palestinians working in settlements, making it possible for Palestinian workers to file complaints for violations of Israeli labor law. But if they complain, they are vulnerable to retaliation due to their dependence on employers for Israeli-issued work-permits.

    In Human Rights Watch's view, settlement businesses contribute to Israel’s international law violations regardless of how they treat their employees, for the reasons detailed in this report. Yet the discriminatory environment and regulatory vacuum in which they operate tempers considerably the settlement employers’ and supporters’ claims that these businesses benefit Palestinians by providing them with jobs. Such claims also ignore how settlement businesses entrench and benefit from a discriminatory and unlawful system that harms the Palestinian economy and livelihoods, as detailed in Chapter III.

    Case Study: Textile Manufacturer

    Until October 2015, an Israeli company produced home textiles such as bed linens for an American retailer in a factory in Barkan Industrial Zone between the settlement of Ariel and the Israeli border. The company is not identified by name because it has since relocated from Barkan to Israel. It nevertheless remains a useful illustrative example of how factories can take advantage of an absence of legal clarity and government oversight to discriminate against Palestinian employees and export goods as though they were made in Israel.

    Although its sole factory was located in a settlement industrial zone, the company promoted itself on its website as an exporter with a “home-base in Israel,” allowing it “to offer their customers duty and quota-free imports, thus significantly reducing overall costs.” Human Rights Watch obtained a set of linens from the factory in Barkan in packaging that included a “Made in Israel” designation, although the seller told Human Rights Watch that the linens were produced in the Barkan factory. For purposes of export, the company is registered under an address in a city inside Israel, rather than in Barkan.

    In June 2015, the company employed around 30 Palestinians, many of whom were women, according to a co-owner. In 2008, 43 employees sued the company for hundreds of thousands of shekels after years of working for a fraction of Israel’s minimum wage.

    According to the lawsuit, women workers earned 6 to 8 shekels per hour (US$2), and men earned 9 to 10 shekels ($2.50). They did not receive sick days, vacation, overtime, or pay slips, they alleged. In response to an article posted on the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre website concerning the lawsuit, the company did not deny that it paid less than minimum wage but wrote that “the worker's payment is higher than the one in the West Bank or in the whole region.” In an interview with Human Rights Watch, the co-owner said the company paid the minimum wage required under Israeli law to a “contractor,” a Palestinian from Haris, who then pocketed a part of the wages. The company argued in court that the contractor was the plaintiffs’ employer although the contractor’s only role was as middleman between the workers and the company. The Supreme Court rejected the argument that the contractor is an employer in its 2007 ruling that applied parts of Israeli labor law to the settlements, but many settlement companies continue to employ workers through contractors, and in one recent case a lower court accepted the company’s claim that the contractor was an employer.

    The workers contend that the contractor pressured them to drop the lawsuit by threatening to fire them, and 12 of them ultimately dropped their cases. All of the cases that went forward settled for amounts ranging from 5,000 to 32,000 shekels ($1,250 to $8,000), less than a third of what they claimed in most cases. Three sisters, for example, who earned 6 shekels per hour sued for a total of 287,000 shekels ($71,750) in lost earnings, but settled for a total of 45,000 shekels ($11,250) collectively, according to the lawyer who represented the plaintiffs. In addition, he told Human Rights Watch that workers claim that the company began to outsource some of the work to nearby Palestinian villages. The company vigorously denied these allegations in a letter to Human Rights Watch, and stated that “Palestinian workers receive wages and social benefits according to Israeli labor law.”

    Human Rights Watch wrote letters to both the factory and the American retailer that regularly sourced linens from them. During the conversations that followed, the factory agreed to close its operations in Barkan and locate to new facilities inside Israel “We are not looking for problems. It seems it really bothers people that we’re there, so we’ll leave,” the co-owner said. He also told Human Rights Watch that he moved the factory there, rather than India or Egypt, because “I was sincerely convinced it was a way towards peace.” He said that what attracted him were the modern facilities of Barkan, close to home, yet with access to Palestinian workers who are otherwise difficult to get. For access to such workers inside Israel “you have to go to the periphery, which is far from ports,” he said.

    Exploiting Legal Ambiguity

    While Israel’s human rights obligations extend to the territories it occupies, the Fourth Geneva Convention requires an occupier to apply existing law, except where there is a threat to its security or amendments are necessary to comply with international law. So under international law, Jordanian law, as it existed in 1967, governs the occupied West Bank, except as amended by military order. Israeli military orders applied three Israeli labor laws to Palestinian workers in settlements: the first, in 1976, requires insurance for workplace injuries; the second, in 1982, requires employers to pay the minimum wage to those working in settlements, although this did not apply to Palestinian workers in industrial zones until 2007. The military commander issued a third law in October 2013 extending Israel’s Women Workers Act to settlements, including industrial zones.

    However, while Jordanian laws apply to Palestinians, except as amended by military order, Israeli courts apply Israeli law to settlers, even though the Supreme Court recognized that the military law formally applies to them. This creates a two-track legal system that offers significantly fewer labor protections to Palestinians than those offered to Israelis. In 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court held that this two-track system, as applied in settlement workplaces, is unlawful discrimination, and Israeli labor law should apply to Palestinian workers in settlements. In making this decision, the court states explicitly that it is deviating from the general rule, which it accepts in principle, that “the law is different for Israeli inhabitants of the occupied territories” than it is for Palestinians.

    The government has not yet implemented this decision, creating a gap between the law on the books and the law that Israeli courts apply. The resulting legal ambiguity has led government authorities to completely halt what little enforcement they had previously conducted to ensure settlement employers at least complied with the military orders that Israel applies to Palestinians, as further discussed below.

    The 2007 Supreme Court decision, however, gave Palestinian workers the ability to sue employers in Israeli courts if they fail to respect Israeli labor laws. Human Rights Watch’s research suggests that this change has led to an increased number of settlement businesses complying with Israeli labor law. However, settlement employers continue to discriminate against Palestinian employees by paying them lower wages than Israelis for the same work.

    A 2014 Bank of Israel report shows that Palestinians receive less than half of the wages received by Israelis working in the same company for the same tenure of employment. In 2010, in response to the Palestinian Authority’s proposed ban on Palestinians working in settlements, the settlement Manufacturers Association calculated that it would cost 2,000 shekels ($500) more a month per worker to hire Israeli workers in place of Palestinians, and requested that the Ministry of Industry reimburse them for the difference if the ban went into effect. Wages of Palestinians in settlements are so much lower than for Israelis that in 2013, the state comptroller warned that unless the Israeli government enforced the minimum wage, settlement companies would have an unfair competitive advantage over Israeli companies in Israel. That same year, an economist from the Bank of Israel made a similar argument at a Knesset hearing on working conditions of Palestinians in Israel and the settlements.

    One reason for the persistence of labor abuses in the current system is that unless Palestinian workers complain there is no possibility of enforcement. But these workers are more vulnerable to employer retaliation for complaining. To work in settlements, Palestinians need an Israeli employer to request a work permit from Israel on their behalf. According to military protocol, if an employer reports a Palestinian worker to the police for some offense, the worker is automatically suspended until the outcome of the police investigation. As described below, Human Rights Watch documented two cases in which employees alleged that their employers initiated a complaint with police about them after they made complaints about working conditions. As a result, they not only lost their jobs but also were unable to work elsewhere in settlements. A number of Palestinian workers whose settler employers did not pay them in accordance with Israeli law told Human Rights Watch that they did not sue out of fear they would lose their work permits.

    Lack of Oversight

    According to several government officials, regulation and oversight of workplace safety also remains virtually non-existent for Palestinian workers in settlements. In 2013, the Ministry of Economy, which is responsible for labor law enforcement, told a Knesset committee that it carries out no activities in settlements because it does not know which law to apply. The same year, Israel’s state comptroller stated in an annual report that there was a severe lack of law enforcement in settlements that has led to an environment where “each [Israeli] person can do as he pleases.” According to Kav LaOved, in 2013, the Ministry of Economy also stopped responding to minimum wage complaints, and in response to a Freedom of Information request, the ministry stated it would not do so until a new military order is issued.

    The lack of oversight, however, pre-dates the legal ambiguity created by the Supreme Court decision applying Israeli labor law to Palestinians. In a July 2007 meeting, the head of the Worker Health and Safety division of the Ministry of Industry said her division “does not go” to settlements “due to a lack of resources and indecisiveness in the matter.”

    Palestinian Dependence on Israeli-Issued Permits

    The system currently in place assigns all the responsibility of enforcement to Palestinian workers, but they are often hesitant to sue because they depend on Israeli-issued work-permits, according to several labor lawyers who represent Palestinians employed in settlements. Even if the court rules in their favor, their future livelihood is threatened by the risk of being fired and losing their permit, they said. In the Jordan Valley, agricultural employers circulate a “blacklist” of Palestinians who have complained about conditions. For this reason, most lawsuits are filed by employees after they’ve already left or been fired from their jobs, two lawyers told Human Rights Watch.

    The military commander of the West Bank designated all settlements, including industrial zones, closed military zones. Palestinians in the occupied territories require a permit issued by the Civil Administration to enter them. Israelis are exempted from this requirement. An employer may request a six-month permit for any Palestinian living legally in the West Bank who is at least 18 years old, a much laxer standard than for a work permit in Israel.

    Settlement employers must sponsor work-permit requests, giving them added leverage over Palestinian workers. Unemployment for Palestinian men in the West Bank is around 18 percent, and the average daily wage for wage employees is 90 shekels ($22.50), making access to settlement jobs essential for the livelihood of many Palestinians. Palestinian workers’ reliance on their employers for permits leaves some workers afraid to demand their rights. One worker whom Human Rights Watch interviewed, Ibrahim, earned 16.5 shekels per hour ($4.13), and did not know that he was entitled to a minimum wage. When Human Rights Watch informed him of his rights, he replied that he would not want to sue: “I’m afraid they’d take my permit. They are Israelis between each other, and I’m the outsider.” Ibrahim also believed that if he sues, his name would become known to the military and intelligence, and they would deny him a permit in the future. “I would never be able to get any sort of work in a settlement,” he said. “There needs to be an outside party that forces the company to pay minimum wage. For workers, it’s too risky,” he added.

    Labor rights groups have documented incidents of employers abusing the permit system to retaliate against workers who complain about work conditions or to fire them without severance pay. In a number of cases, settler-employers reported a fabricated “security incident” to Israeli police in retaliation for workers’ complaints over working conditions in the factory, triggering the immediate revocation of their permits once summoned for police questioning, according to Hanna Zohar, who heads Kav LaOved’s division for Palestinian workers. Still other Palestinian workers suspected that their employers made false “security” reports to fire them without having to pay the severance fees required under Israeli labor law, since employees who can no longer work due to a revoked permit are not considered “fired.”

    A military regulation in force since May 2011 requires settler-employers to formally request that the relevant authorities withdraw a security objection before the Civil Administration can restore a worker’s revoked permit, which gives employers extraordinary leverage over the livelihood of Palestinian workers. Kav LaOved, the Israeli non-profit that works on labor rights, represented workers from a factory in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, after the company tried to compel them to sign a document agreeing to release the company from any previous claims in exchange for receiving their full rights from that point forward. Several workers refused to sign. In apparent response, the company lodged a complaint with the police claiming that they damaged company property. Applicable regulations require the police to revoke the permit of a Palestinian summoned for questioning following a complaint of an Israeli citizen. In other words, following the complaint of their employer, the workers not only lost their job at the company, but also were not able to work in any other settlements. Kav LaOved successfully appealed the revocation of their permit, but the workers’ claim and counter-claim is still pending in court.

    In a different case, an Israeli non-profit organization that advocates for unionization of workers, WAC-Ma’an, documented the case of a settler employer who allegedly filed a false police complaint claiming that a Palestinian union leader, Hatem Abu Ziada, had purposefully damaged military equipment. An Israeli lawyer appealed the security preclusion in the Supreme Court on behalf of Abu Ziada, and the GSS removed the preclusion without explanation four months after it had revoked the permit. Hashem Massawra, a lawyer who works with Kav LaOved, told Human Rights Watch that these cases are not uncommon. “Factory owners and managers are closely connected to the security establishment. It is difficult to prove, but there are many cases where an employer is behind the security objection,” he said.

    A Flimsy Excuse for Labor Abuses

    Factory owners and managers in Barkan industrial zone say the employment of thousands of Palestinians in the industrial zone embodies the hope for Israeli-Palestinian co-existence. The founder of Barkan and mayor of Ariel, Ron Nahman, said in an interview in 2000 discussing Palestinian employees in Barkan: “I have a better shared development plan with the Arabs in the area than any of the leftist administrations, and I pursue peace exactly like all the leftists.” One Barkan factory manager told an Israeli newspaper:

    Here, workers start from minimum wage and salaries can get as high as 9,000 shekels [$2,250] a month – three times the average in the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians work shoulder to shoulder with Israelis, and it’s a chance to work together, to talk together, to trust each other. They produce goods of peace.

    Naftali Bennett, the former Minister of Economy who has publicly disavowed the two-state solution, similarly called for building more settlement industrial zones as “economic bridges of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” Rueven Rivlin, Israel’s current president, similarly described Barkan as “a hub of co-existence and bridges to peace.”[311]

    Yet these rosy sentiments ignore the deeply discriminatory environment in which settlement businesses operate, and Palestinian workers’ vulnerability to abuse. It also ignores the fact that settlement businesses entrench, contribute to, and benefit from Israeli policies that dispossess Palestinians from their land and resources, facilitate unlawful settlements, and restrict Palestinian construction, trade, and freedom of movement. These policies deprive Palestinians of their livelihoods and make it difficult for them to find adequate alternative employment in Palestinian businesses.

    Settlement industrial zones and farms constitute a significant portion of the Israeli civilian presence in the West Bank. This annex describes the nature and scale of these commercial activities as well as their harmful human rights impact. As noted in the report, many settlement manufacturers and agricultural businesses constitute a somewhat distinct subcategory of settlement businesses that do not engage in activities that directly service settlements, yet they nonetheless, in Human Rights Watch's view, contribute to and benefit from Israel’s rights abuses. Because many of these businesses export their goods outside of Israel, businesses around the world are at risk of becoming implicated in these abuses through their supply chain. Third-party states also contravene their international law obligation not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over settlements by allowing the import of settlement goods into their territory when such goods are labeled as “Made in Israel” or benefit from tariff agreements between the state and Israel.

    “Made in Israel”

    Settlement industrial zones house around 1,000 factories and settlement farms cultivate 9,300 hectares of land. These manufacturers and agricultural producers export much of their goods abroad. For example, according to its website, 80 percent of goods manufactured in Barkan are sent abroad, largely to Europe and the United States. Settlement farmers in the Jordan Valley export some 66 percent of the produce they grow outside of Israel – the highest percentage of agricultural export compared to regions inside Israel, according to Israel’s Vegetable Growers Association.

    It is difficult to determine the exact value of goods exported from settlements, since Israel does not provide export data disaggregated by locality of origin. In 2012, Israel told the World Bank that the value of exports from settlements to Europe, Israel’s largest trade partner, was US$300 million per year, but the World Bank notes that other analyses, which take into account goods partially produced in settlements, estimated the value of European imports of such goods to be significantly higher.

    These settlement goods and agricultural produce are frequently labeled “Made in Israel” and benefit from preferential customs treatment many countries give to Israeli products. In November 2015, the European Union released an interpretative notice prohibiting the import of settlement goods labeled “Made in Israel,” citing its duty not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories and EU consumer protection laws. For similar the reasons, since 2005, European Union regulations mandate that goods produced in settlements may not benefit from the EU free trade agreement with Israel, so manufacturers must pay 7 percent customs fees. According to media reports, the EU also bans all animal products and organic food produced in settlements from entering the EU.

    Since 1995, United States customs regulations have required goods originating in the West Bank and Gaza to be labeled as such – and specifically prohibit them from being labeled as made in Israel.

    Nonetheless, settlement businesses continue to label settlement products as “Made in Israel,” a practice defended by Israeli officials. In response to an EU call for labeling, Yair Lapid, who served as Minister of Finance in 2013 and 2014, called the initiative “a de-facto boycott of Israel,” since, in his words, “there is no difference between products which are produced over the Green Line and those that are produced within the Green Line.” The Israeli government also compensates settlement producers when importing countries levy customs duties on their products.

    Industrial Zones

    Israel operates anywhere between 16 and 20 industrial zones in the West Bank, housing around 1,000 factories that produce a range of goods, including metal, plastics, textiles, and food. There is no definitive number of industrial zones because, unlike for industrial zones inside Israel, the law enumerating special conditions for industrial zones in settlements – called “industrial zones under Israeli administration” – does not specifically include names or geographic indicators and no official list exists. The major settlement industrial zones are in Mishor Adumim, Atarot, Barkan, Shahak, Ariel, and Gush Etzion. Some other industrial zones are officially approved but not actually operational, or only minimally so, while others are operating but without any approved plan or building permits.

    Industrial Zones and Land Confiscation

    Settlement industrial zones are established on 13,650 dunams (1,365 hectares), thus significantly contributing to Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land for the benefit of expanding Israeli civilian presence in the West Bank. Under international law all civilian settlement construction in occupied territory is unlawful. However, Israeli laws and military orders allow settlement construction on “absentee” land, “state” land, or on land where Palestinians cannot prove private ownership. Most industrial zones were built in the 1980s and 1990s on land held by the state under Israel’s Absentee Property Law, which puts the state in control of most of the land owned by Palestinians who were internally displaced or who became refugees during the 1948 war. In practice, it is extremely difficult for most Palestinians whom Israel classified as “absentees” to reclaim their property. In addition, some industrial zones are fully or partially built on private lands whose Palestinian owners are not “absentees,” in violation even of Israeli laws.

    A 2005 report by the Israeli state comptroller, an independent auditor elected by the Knesset with a mandate to examine the executive branch, recounts how Israel established one industrial zone in the West Bank without any process to determine the status of the land. After millions of shekels of government and private investment, Israeli authorities discovered that Palestinians privately owned the land. The comptroller does not identify the industrial zone in question, nor does he include information on how, if at all, Israeli authorities responded to the discovery. However, quoting the assistant legal advisor to the Civil Administration, he notes that, “this case, despite its severity, is not exceptional.” According to a leaked government database, the industrial areas in Alfei Menashe, Shilo and Beit El are in part or entirely built on private Palestinian land, as are individual industrial buildings in a number of other settlements.

    A later comptroller’s report highlights the case of Nitzanei Shalom industrial zone, where none of the factories have required permits to operate and many are built without approval, including on 25 dunams of private Palestinian land. Yet Ben Zion Geshuri, the CEO of Geshuri Industries, a petrochemical company there, explained in a Knesset hearing in 1999 that his company, whose previous operations inside Israel had been the subject of criticism and investigation by the Ministry of Environment, moved to the settlement with the “encouragement of the government,” which told him it was an approved industrial zone. “This is how they led us there, and this is what they promised us,” he said. Despite its illegality under Israeli law, the Ministry of Defense transferred 300,000 shekels ($75,000) of public funds to the private association managing the industrial zone to repair a road. Barkan Industrial Zone, among the largest in the settlements, is at least partially built on privately owned Palestinian land, but Israel refuses to recognize the owners’ claim to the land.

    Economic Impact of Industrial Zones

    The ostensible purpose of settlement industrial zones is to develop the local economy in “Judea and Samaria” and provide employment for settlers. The websites of several settlement industrial zones highlight this goal. Barkan Industrial Zone, for example, emphasizes that the “direct link between the factories [in the industrial zone] and local residents assists greatly in providing employment and absorbing new families in Samaria” and goes on to note that “60 percent of workers are Jewish and most are from Samaria.” The Gush Etzion Industrial Zone website similarly states that it was founded “to assist [with] demographic and settlement development in the area of Gush Etzion and serve as a source of jobs for settlements in and around Gush Etzion.” Identical language is used on the website of a third settlement industrial zone, Shahak.

    While Israelis own and manage the vast majority of factories in settlement industrial zones, the workforce is overwhelmingly Palestinian. In 2013, only 6.8 percent of settlers worked in manufacturing, mining and quarrying and a paltry 0.6 percent in agriculture, forestry and fishing. In 2009, of the 17,000 people formally employed in settlements, 11,000 were Palestinian. The actual number is probably much higher, according to the Israeli state comptroller, since many Palestinians working in settlement industrial zones do not have permits and are therefore not included in official Israeli statistics. Two Palestinian trade union officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch estimated a much lower percentage of Israeli workers than the 60 percent Barkan claims on its website.

    In fact, business owners and managers point to the availability of low-cost Palestinian workers for labor-intensive factory work as a major factor drawing them to settlement industrial zones. According to official Israeli data, 75 percent of manufacturing jobs in settlements are “low and medium-low technology” jobs, higher than in any region in Israel. All industrial zones are considered closed military zones, and Palestinian workers therefore must obtain a permit to enter; however, these permits are more easily obtained than permits to enter Israel.

    Companies in industrial zones also benefit from rents and tax rates that are generally lower than in Israel. In Barkan, for example, in 2012 the cost of rent was between 24 and 27 shekels per square meter, compared to 43 shekels per square meter in industrial zones in Caesarea and Rosh Ha’Ayin, the two closest industrial zones inside Israel; annual taxes in Barkan were 47 shekels per square meter, compared to 100 shekels in Rosh Ha’Ayin. Atarot, an industrial zone in East Jerusalem is even cheaper: rent was 23 shekels and taxes were 74 to 85 shekels per square meter, compared to taxes of 92 to 140 shekels in other areas in Jerusalem. While the market determines the lower rates in settlements, market prices are influenced by Israel’s minimal initial investment in obtaining the land, a savings that it passes on to businesses. The Israeli government offers a package of benefits further reducing the cost of settlement industrial zones, awarded on the basis that the government has designated almost all such industrial zones as “National Priority Area A,” as explained in more detail in the section on government financial incentives in Chapter III.

    Many settlement companies further cut costs by taking advantage of the complex legal environment and regulatory vacuum that exists in settlements, as described in the section of this report on labor abuses.

    The lack of legal clarity and government oversight in settlements have also created a “pollution haven” for high-polluting industries, such as petrochemical companies in Nitzanei Shalom (“Buds of Peace”). A 2014 United Nations report highlights how “Ariel dumps liquid waste sewage and industrial waste into a stream and on agricultural land, rendering it contaminated and unworkable. The environmental impact of settlement industry has increasingly been taken up by settlers, since they, too, suffer from the degraded air and water quality. However, as is explained in detail in the section on labor abuses, the problem of regulation and oversight is somewhat distinct from the other violations described in this report: while settlement businesses can and should avoid discriminating against Palestinian employees, they remain, in Human Rights Watch's view, out of compliance with their business responsibilities because they cannot avoid the other violations the report identifies.

    Settlement Agriculture

    Most settlement agriculture is in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area, a region that stretches 120 kilometers along the West Bank of the Jordan River, which forms the natural border with Jordan. This area, which comprises 30 percent of the West Bank, has rich soil and sits atop a water aquifer. Israel began to settle this area in 1968, in the immediate aftermath of the June 1967 war, as part of a plan drawn up by then-deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon. The plan proposed settling the entire length of the valley with agricultural communities to ensure Israeli presence along what Allon called “defensible borders.”

    The state took control over the land for agricultural settlements in a number of ways, including appropriating 5,000 dunams (500 hectares) of private Palestinian property. In 2013, Israel’s state comptroller reported that the head of the Civil Administration wrote in a letter to government officials that most settlement agriculture is on land not designated for agriculture or on private Palestinian land:

    The majority of [Israeli] agriculture in Judea and Samaria is based on contracts with the World Zionist Organization without any direct contract with the Commissioner [for state land and absentee property] and a sizable number of these contracts are not designated for agriculture or were given for private [Palestinian] land.

    Agricultural settlements benefit from Israel’s discriminatory allocation of land and water to settlers and an absence of government oversight over labor conditions. Only 9,500 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area—dispersed among around 40 settlements (including settlement “outposts”). By contrast, between 60,000 and 80,000 Palestinians live in the area, constituting around 90 percent of the population. Yet Israel denies them the ability to build, cultivate or herd on around 87 percent of the land in the area, which Israel has restricted for settlements or military use only.

    The water-intensive settlement agriculture industry also heavily relies on water drawn from an aquifer entirely within the West Bank, with the cost of water extraction and provision subsidized by Israel. The Eastern Aquifer lying beneath the Jordan Valley contains one third of the West Bank’s underground water resources. According to B’Tselem, the 9,500 settlers in the Jordan Valley use around 44.8 million cubic meters of water a year, an amount equal to one-third the total amount used by the West Bank’s 2.6 million Palestinians. B’Tselem also found that in 2011, Israel allotted the average household in Jordan Valley settlements 7.5 times more water than the average Palestinian household in the same region (450 versus 60 liters per day). Palestinian farmers’ limited access to water and the higher price they pay for water have crippled their farms and livelihoods.

    Labor conditions appear to be even more dismal for Palestinians who work on settlement farms than they are in industrial zones. At least 6,000 Palestinians work in settlement agriculture in the Jordan Valley, and double that number during harvest season, according to Jordan Valley settlers. Human Rights Watch’s recent report, Ripe for Abuse: Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank, found that most Palestinian workers in the settlement agricultural sector earned 60 to 70 shekels per day ($17.50), around one-third of the minimum wage in Israel, and had no medical insurance or other benefits. The report also highlights how the regulatory vacuum creates an enabling environment for child labor. A recent investigative article in The Marker, an Israeli newspaper focused on the economy, similarly found that many Palestinians working in agricultural settlements work 16-hour days, seven days a week, for eight shekels ($2) an hour – one-third the Israeli minimum wage. The revelations prompted a Knesset debate on labor conditions in the settlement agricultural sector, which several Knesset members described as “modern slavery.” In July 2015, the right-wing Jewish Home party dropped its effort to apply Israeli labor laws in the West Bank, reportedly because farmers argued that paying Palestinians under the terms required by Israeli laws would bankrupt them.

    Businesses involved in the expansion of settlements contribute to the violation of Palestinian rights in addition to the rights of landowners from whom Israel confiscated land. Palestinians are virtually cut off from vast areas of land, much of which Israel recognizes to be private Palestinian land, by a network of fences that surround settlements. These restrictions have harmed thousands of Palestinian farmers’ livelihoods, further demonstrating how private interests’ involvement in settlement expansion harms Palestinians.

    Since Ariel’s establishment, Israel built three security fences around it, in each case expanding the areas enclosed: the first in the 1980s, a second fence in 1993, and most recently the separation barrier in 2004. Israel confiscated some private land for the route of the fences, and, although it never formally confiscated them, it has effectively fenced-off thousands more dunams from their owners, who are now subject to a complex set of administrative restrictions in order to access their land. In 2004, the separation barrier around Ariel divided Palestinians from 9,000 dunams (900 hectares) of their land – 3,500 dunams (350 hectares) belong to more than 200 farmers from Salfit, with the remainder belonging to the nearby villages of Haris, Kifl Haris, Iskaka, Marda, and Qira.

    Officially justified on security grounds, the route of the fences and walls surrounding settlements frequently encompass land reserves to enable the expansion of the land surrounding settlement businesses and residential areas. The barriers are located hundreds, even thousands, of meters from the edge of settlements’ built-up areas, creating what the Israeli military calls a “buffer zone” or “seam zone” necessary to prevent terrorists from infiltrating settlements. Officials claim that any obstacle to Palestinian farmers reaching their land is temporary and that the “fence does not give one centimeter to the settlements.”

    However, B’Tselem analyzed the route of the separation barrier around 12 settlements, including Ariel, and found in each case that the barrier’s route corresponds precisely to the outline of the settlement’s plan for expansion. The Afaneh case, discussed above, illustrates one way in which settlers can seek to expand onto the land between the barrier and the existing settlement, undermining the argument that the large “buffer zone” was necessary for security. In a few cases, Israel’s Supreme Court agreed that the military planned the route of the separation barrier, and thus the extent of Palestinian land it encompassed, not to address security concerns but to accommodate future settlement growth. In one case, the court noted that the enlarged area of land encompassed by the separation barrier contradicted the military’s own topographical rationale for the route of the barrier in other cases, making its location less safe than if it had constructed the route only with the existing settlements in mind. The founder of Fence for Life, a group established to pressure the Israeli government to build a separation barrier between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, stated in 2012: “Of course the fence would also have political implications,” he said. “The more land you keep between the fence and the Green Line – the more you can negotiate later.”

    In Ariel, the construction of each successive fence has encroached on Palestinian land as the settlement continues to expand. In July 2005, the year following the construction of the separation barrier, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, while visiting Ariel, said: “Again, I make clear that this is one of the most important [settlement] blocs, and it will always be a part of the state of Israel. . . . I’ve come to see how to expand the city and strengthen the bloc, as I am doing with other blocs.”

    Impact of Restrictions on Farmers’ Access to their Land

    Human Rights Watch interviewed fourteen farmers from the town of Salfit and village of Marda who own land to which Ariel’s fence has cut off their access; in addition, Israeli authorities confiscated some of these farmers’ land. In each case, the farmers described how Israeli restrictions on access to Palestinian land drastically reduce the productivity of their harvests, to the extent that two farmers Human Rights Watch spoke with had stopped cultivating all or part of their land altogether, despite their fears that Israel may designate it as state land on the basis that Palestinians have not continuously cultivated it. The farmers may access their lands two or three times a year for a limited number of days, with the prior permission of the Israeli military, known as “coordination.” In 2014, the military allotted less than eight days for Palestinians to harvest their lands cut off by the separation barrier, from October 15 to 25, except for Friday afternoon and Saturday. If it is raining during the annual periods when the military permits access, farmers cannot work, but the military does not extend the access period as a result. All farmers interviewed explained that the amount of time the Israeli military allotted was woefully inadequate. They said that the harvest season should last at least two months and that it would take them one month to properly harvest their land.

    Farmers also complained that on days when the military permits access, the military opens the gates only twice a day for around half hour. The gates are supposed to open at 8:00 am and close at around 4:00 p.m., but sometimes the farmers are made to wait four or five hours before they open, and then they cannot leave until they re-open in the afternoon. They do not allow cars to enter, even though some farmers’ land is located several kilometers from the gate.

    Some farmers also expressed fear that the physical barrier between them and their lands might turn into a total refusal of their right to access or eventual annexation. The military normally prohibits farmers from bringing tractors, with the exception of one tractor during the harvest season. Since the area is considered a “buffer zone,” farmers require a military permit to plant new trees.

    Abd al-Rahman D. lost 50 dunams (five hectares) of land, planted with root vegetables, which Israel allocated to Ariel and its surrounding infrastructure, he told Human Rights Watch. The military confiscated 15 dunams of his land in 1978 for the original settlement of Ariel, and confiscated the remaining 35 in the 1980s for the first security fence. He successfully sued for the return of the 35 dunams – only to then have the military restrict his access to them in 1993, when it built the second fence around the settlement. He has since stopped cultivating these 35 dunams entirely. “There are many obstacles,” he said. “The army doesn’t allow enough time [to cultivate the land], I can’t bring in tractors, and they don’t allow us to plant new olive trees.” He’s afraid Israel will declare the land as belonging to the state if it’s not cultivated, but he cannot afford the investment. In 2012, he said, the International Committee of the Red Cross arranged a relief project to help farmers plant new trees on their land. Some farmers were able to overcome the administrative obstacles and plant the trees, but all of their trees died because of insufficient irrigation, Abd al-Rahman said.

    Abd al-Rahman has six children, three of whom attend university. In order to pay their tuition, he sold five dunams (0.5 hectares) of his land. “It used to be that the land would make money, but it’s no longer a source of income,” he said. According to several farmers from Salfit, each dunam of land can be planted with 20 olive trees; each tree can produce around 15 liters of olive oil a year, at a value of US$70, making the output of one dunam of olive trees worth $1,400 annually. A dunam of wheat can be sold for $400. “If, since 1980, I had been able to cultivate my land, I would not have had to sell the five dunams to pay for my children’s education,” Abd al-Rahman said.

    Nitham Shtayye, another farmer from Salfit, inherited 80 dunams of land from his father and grandfather, 30 planted with olive trees and 50 with field crops such as wheat and barley. He said the military restricted his access to the land since the separation barrier was erected in 2004. He stopped cultivating the 50 dunams because of the nearly insurmountable access restrictions, he said. In 2011, he learned that Israeli officials had declared these 50 dunams as “absentee property.” He continues to do the best he can with the olive trees, he said. He later smuggled in and planted 50 new olive tree seedlings on the land, but they all died because of a lack of irrigation, he said. “Before, my 30 dunams of olive trees usually produced 9,000 liters of oil,” worth approximately $42,000, Nitham said. “This year, I only made 450 liters,” worth about $2,100. Nitham, like other farmers, worries that Israel will eventually fully confiscate his land. Human Rights Watch observed photographs Nitham had taken of Israeli survey marks on his property as well as on other Palestinians’ lands. He said he had asked the Israeli authorities the purpose for these marks, without receiving a response as of December 2014. He and several other farmers in Salfit said they worry that the marks may portend confiscation.

    Another farmer, Mahmoud R., has 30 dunams planted with 350 olive trees, but the separation barrier built in 2004 divides the plot in two: 22 dunams lie on the “Ariel side” of the barrier. “Even when I go to work on my 8 dunams on this side of the wall, the soldiers kick me out. They threatened me that if I come back they’ll shoot me in my legs,” most recently in February or March of 2013, Mahmoud said. Ahmad A., a farmer who has 15 dunams of land that the separation barrier splits in half, described receiving similar threats: “A soldier threatened to shoot my leg if I didn’t get out. They watch you from the tower. If they see you cultivate, they tell you to go away.”

    Mahmoud continues to try to cultivate his land, but only obtains a fraction of its previous output due to Israeli restrictions. “Tractors are forbidden. I can only use hand tools. Only in harvest season, I can use one tractor to carry the olives picked,” he said. Mahmoud said soldiers had urged him to sell his land to Israeli settlers.

    Soldiers came to me more than five times to ask if I want to sell the land. They said, “You are working and getting tired for nothing. If you are afraid of the Palestinian Authority, we’ll send you to Jordan or America and give you money.” I refused. An old man who was beside me picked up soil in his hand and said, “this is more valuable to me than all the money in Israel.”>

    Like the case of Abd al-Rahman, Abd Z., an elderly farmer who has 50 dunams of land “behind” the wall around Ariel planted with olive trees, told Human Rights Watch he was forced to sell his land due to economic hardship. Abd said he sold one dunam to marry off his son. “My father and grandfather depended on the land for food. The bread [we made] came from the wheat. They planted sesame, beans.” He added: “I am one of hundreds of farmers in the same situation.”

    Annex III

    April 20, 2015

    XXXXXXXXXXXX

    Chairman and Founder

    XXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX

    Dear Mr. XXXXXXXXXXXX,

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to businesses engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that XXXXXXXXXXXX is currently constructing an apartment complex in the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank.

    Consequently, I am writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views and comments in their forthcoming report.

    According to your website, XXXXXXXXXXXX is currently constructing Green Ariel, a six-building, 96-apartment complex in Ariel.[387] Green Ariel, like all construction in Israeli settlements, is built on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[388] By constructing homes in an Israeli settlement, XXXXXXXXXXXX would appear to be facilitating another Israeli violation of international law, the prohibition against the transfer by an occupying power “its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”[389]

    Companies have a responsibility to protect and respect human rights. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights articulate this as a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” The Guiding Principles also direct companies to undertake adequate due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.”[390]

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • Does XXXXXXXXXXXX conduct due diligence to determine the legal status of land it acquires and/or develops?
  • Does XXXXXXXXXXXX receive subsidies or other preferential terms from the Israeli government or from the accompanying bank financing the project for development in Ariel due to its status as a National Priority Area? Do purchasers of Green Ariel apartments receive such preferential treatment indirectly benefitting XXXXXXXXXXXX?
  • Does XXXXXXXXXXXX pay land or other taxes to Ariel municipality? Please provide relevant details.
  • Does XXXXXXXXXXXX have a human rights due diligence policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex IV: Letter from Human Rights Watch to XXXXXXXXXXXX

    April 20, 2015

    Eliezer Priel

    Chief Executive Officer

    Hanson Israel

    XXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear Mr. Priel,

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to businesses engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that Hanson Israel, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Cement, owns and operates a quarry in the occupied Palestinian territories. Consequently, I am writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views and comments in their forthcoming report.

    According to Human Rights Watch’s information, Hanson Israel, which Heidelberg Cement acquired in 2007, owns and operates Nahal Rabba quarry. The quarry, which extracts and crushes dolomite to produce about 4,000 tons of gravel a day, is located on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[391]

    Furthermore, international humanitarian law only permits an occupying power to extract resources territory it occupies for the benefit of the local population. Yet their research shows that Hanson pays Israel royalties for the resources it extracts in Nahal Rabba quarry and it appears that almost all of the concrete and asphalt it produces is sold on the Israeli market or exported abroad, not used for the benefit of the local population.

    Companies have a responsibility to protect and respect human rights. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights articulate this as a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” The Guiding Principles also direct companies to undertake adequate due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.”[392]

    Reflecting these responsibilities, Heidelberg Cement’s Corporate Citizenship Policy commits the company and its subsidiaries to act with “openness and dialogue, fairness towards economic partners, responsibility to employees and locations.”[393] The policy also notes: “As a good corporate citizen, Heidelberg Cement maintains a lively exchange with local communities and provides an impetus for an active, vital society.”

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • What amount of taxes, royalties, and other fees does Hanson Israel pay annually to Israel for the extraction of resources and associated facilities in the occupied Palestinian territories?
  • Does Hanson Israel pay taxes, royalties, or other fees to the Palestinian Authority?
  • How many Palestinians does Hanson’s facility in Nahal Rabba employ full-time? Does Hanson provide comparable social benefits, including health insurance, for Israeli and Palestinian employees?
  • Does Hanson Israel have a human rights or corporate social responsibility due diligence policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex V: Letter from Human Rights Watch to XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    April 20, 2015

    XXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Co-owners

    XXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear XXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXXX,

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to business activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, non-governmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that your company operates a textile factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. They are writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views in their forthcoming report.

    XXXXXXXX operates a factory in the Barkan industrial zone, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, according to a list of factories published on Barkan’s website.[394] As such, the factory operates on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[395] Their research also found that XXXXXXXX pays taxes to Barkan, which is also a residential settlement, thereby facilitating another Israeli violation of international law, the prohibition against the transfer by an occupying power “of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”[396]

    Our research also indicates that XXXXXXXX has taken advantage of the two-tiered system that Israel operates in the West Bank, whereby Palestinians working in Israeli settlements are afforded significantly weaker labor rights protections than their Israeli colleagues, despite an Israeli High Court ruling in 2007 holding that Israeli labor laws apply to all employment relationships in settlements. Dozens of Palestinian employees filed lawsuits from 2008 to 2012 alleging that XXXXXXXX paid them significantly less than the minimum wage stipulated in Israeli law, and refused to provide social benefits such as sick days, vacations days, and overtime. Women workers reported being paid on average 2 shekels ($0.50) less per hour than men, also in alleged violation of Israeli law. All cases settled out of court.[397]

    The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Companies articulate companies’ responsibility to protect and respect human rights. Under the Guiding Principles, companies have a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” Companies are expected to undertake adequate due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.”[398]

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • Please provide the locations of XXXXXXXX business operations, including production facilities, in Israel and in the West Bank.
  • Does XXXXXXXX market and/or export goods produced in its Barkan facility as “Made in Israel”?
  • How many people does XXXXXXXX employ in its Barkan facility? How many of those employees are Palestinian residents of the West Bank? How many are Israeli residents of the West Bank?
  • Are contracts with Israeli and Palestinian employees of XXXXXXXX governed by the same labor protections?
  • Do all Palestinian employees receive at least Israel’s minimum wage and other benefits to which Israelis are entitled under Israeli law? How many Palestinian employees receive more than the specified minimum wage?
  • Do all Palestinian employees receive pay slips recording hours worked and wages earned? Are men and women paid equally for comparable work?
  • With regard to the lawsuits filed against XXXXXXXX by Palestinian employees between 2008 and 2012, according to the workers’ rights group Kav LaOved, workers involved have alleged that XXXXXXXX engaged in tactics to discourage employees from filing such suits, pressured them to withdraw their complaints, and retaliated against them for continuing to pursue their claims. They would appreciate your response to these claims.
  • Please provide information as to the amount of taxes, fees, or other payments made by XXXXXXXX for the operation of its facility in the Barkan industrial zone. Please also indicate which Israeli authorities, including municipal authorities, they are paid to.
  • Please provide information regarding the value of any governmental incentives or subsidies received by XXXXXXXX operations in the Barkan industrial zone, including preferential tax treatment, subsidies, or other financial benefits, due to its location in Barkan.
  • Does xxxxxxxx have a human rights or other corporate social responsibility policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex VI: Letter from XXXXXX to Human Rights Watch

    XXXXXXX

    May 21st 2015

    To:

    Human Rights Watch

    350fifth Avenue, 34th floor

    NY, NY 10118-3299

    Tel: 212-290-4700

    Dear Ms. Sarah Leah Whitson and Mr. Chris Albin-Lackey.

    We have received your letter dated May 7th, yesterday on Wednesday May 20th.

    All stated in your letter regarding human and workers rights is inaccurate, incorrect and does not reflect the reality and the facts as it is.

    We are ready to meet with your representative office in Israel and present the real picture.

    We find it necessary to indicate that their Palestinian workers receive wages and social benefits according to the Israeli labor law and that they work in a modern facility with appropriate environmental conditions.

    Our workers are treated fairly and respectfully and they are willing to do everything possible for their benefit and welfare. They will be glad to cooperate with you to achieve this goal.

    To coordinate a meeting, please send an e mail to Ms. XXXXXXXXX at: XXXXX@XXXXX.co.il or call: XXX-XX-XXXXXXX.

    Sincerely,

    XXXX XXXXXX XXXXX XXXXXX

    Annex VII: Letter from Human Rights Watch to Heidelberg Cement

    April 20, 2015

    Stefanie Kaufmann

    Sustainability Communications Manager

    Heidelberg Cement

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear Ms. Kaufmann,

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to businesses engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that Heidelberg Cement owns and operates, through its subsidiary Hanson Israel, a quarry in the occupied Palestinian territories. Consequently, I am writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views and comments in their forthcoming report.

    According to Human Rights Watch’s information, Heidelberg Cement acquired Hanson in 2007, including its Israeli subsidiary, which owns and operates Nahal Rabba quarry. The quarry is located on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[399] Furthermore, international humanitarian law only permits an occupying power to extract resources from territory it occupies for the benefit of the local population.

    Yet their research shows that Hanson pays Israel royalties for the resources it extracts from Nahal Rabba quarry and it appears that almost all of the concrete and asphalt it produces is sold on the Israeli market or exported abroad, not used for the benefit of the local population.

    Companies have a responsibility to protect and respect human rights. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights articulate this as a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” The Guiding Principles also direct companies to undertake adequate due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.”[400]

    Reflecting these responsibilities, Heidelberg Cement’s Corporate Citizenship Policy commits the company and its subsidiaries to act with “openness and dialogue, fairness towards economic partners, responsibility to employees and locations.”[401] The policy also notes: “As a good corporate citizen, Heidelberg Cement maintains a lively exchange with local communities and provides an impetus for an active, vital society.”

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • What amount of taxes, royalties, and other fees does Heidelberg Cement, through its subsidiary Hanson Israel, pay annually to Israel for the extraction of resources and associated facilities in the occupied Palestinian territories?
  • Does Heidelberg Cement, through its subsidiary Hanson Israel, pay taxes, royalties, or other fees to the Palestinian Authority?
  • How many Palestinians does Hanson’s facility in Nahal Rabba employ full-time? Does Hanson provide comparable social benefits, including health insurance, for Israeli and Palestinian employees?
  • Does Heidelberg Cement have a human rights or corporate social responsibility due diligence policy in addition to its Corporate Citizenship Policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex VIII: Letter from Heidelberg Cement to Human Rights Watch

    HeidelbergCement AG · P.O. Box XX XX XX HeidelbergCement AG

    XXXXX Heidelberg

    Human Rights Watch XXXXXXXXXXX

    350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor XXXXX Heidelberg

    New York, NY 10118-3299 Germany

    Phone +XXXXXXXXXX

    Fax +XXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Andreas Schaller

    +XX XXXX XXX XXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXX@heidelbergcement.com

    19th May 2015

    Your request for information dated 22nd April 2015

    Dear Ms. Whitson,

    Dear Mr. Albin-Lackey,

    Thank you for contacting us directly with respect to your research. Below, please find the requested information concerning the activities of their subsidiary Hanson Israel:

    1. What amount of taxes, royalties, and other fees does Heidelberg Cement, through its subsidiary Hanson Israel, pay annually to Israel for the extraction of resources and associated facilities in the occupied Palestinian territories?

    The Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria collects fees for the activity of the Israeli quarries located in Area C, mainly consisting of royalties. The Civil Administration is the Israeli governing body that operates in the West Bank and administers Area C of the West Bank. The mission of the Civil Administration has been defined in Military Order No. 947, by the 1981 military government of the West Bank and Gaza as follows: "A Civilian Administration is hereby established in the region. The Civilian Administration will administer the civilian affairs in the region, in accordance with the directives of this order, for the well-being and good of the population and in order to supply and implement the public services, and taking into consideration the need to maintain an orderly administration and public order in the region."

    The royalties relating to the quarry operation are calculated by the quantity of produce extracted from the quarry, and the rate of the royalties is determined regardless of its origin. The rate is the same as quarries in Israel – approx. 1.10 Euro/ton. It includes also a compulsory component for the quarry’s rehabilitation to a Rehabilitation Fund. In 2014, their subsidiary Hanson Israel paid royalties of approx. 3,250,000 € and an additional 430,000 € of municipal taxes for the operation of the Nahal Raba quarry to the Shomron Regional Council, the governing municipal authority.

    It needs to be emphasised that these revenues for quarrying activities in Area C are being designated as funding for the Civil Administration for the benefit of the residents of Area C.

    2. Does Heidelberg Cement, through its subsidiary Hanson Israel, pay taxes, royalties, or other fees to the Palestinian Authority? The Civil Administration is part of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) disposition and constitutes the body responsible for implementation of government policy in Judea and Samaria and bettering these areas in civil matters in accordance with the guidelines set by the government and in coordination with ministries, the IDF and the security forces. In line with international provisions applicable to Area C and reflecting the Oslo Accords, which also define ownership and operation of quarries in Area C, Israel has total tax and royalty sovereignty over the quarries. As royalties and taxes for quarrying activities in Area C are being designated as funding for the Civil Administration for the benefit of the residents of Area C, they refer to their response to question 1 for further information on that matter.

    3. How many Palestinians does Hanson’s facility in Nahal Raba employ full-time? Does Hanson provide comparable social benefits, including health insurance, for Israeli and Palestinian employees?

    In 2014, there were 36 Hanson employees with PA citizenship working at Nahal Raba quarry. These workers have exactly the same benefits and salaries as their Israeli counterparts (in fact their net salary is higher because the PA income tax rate is lower than the Israeli income tax rate). In addition, there are 25 additional employees with PA citizenship who work through sub-contractors at the quarry on a daily basis. In total, more than 60% of the workforce at Nahal Raba quarry is comprised by employees with PA citizenship. Hanson Israel provides therefore direct income and support to 61 Palestinian families. They would like to emphasise that at Hanson Israel, all employees (both Israeli and Palestinian citizens), whatever their ethnic origins and religious beliefs, are equally respected and have the same rights and working conditions; including occupational training and medical support.

    4. Does Heidelberg Cement have a human rights or corporate social responsibility due diligence policy in addition to its Corporate Citizenship Policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details. Our group-wide Code of Business Conduct and their Leadership Principles define the requirements for the ethical behaviour of their employees. As a global company, they are committed to global values and standards: the ILO core labour standards, OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. In line with this commitment they conduct case-specific impact assessments concerning their activities. On top of this, they are currently developing a group-wide tool to further improve their internal due diligence processes in the area of corporate social responsibility. This tool will inform and broaden their existing internal due diligence processes by providing a structured approach and assessment methodology.

    In the specific case of Nahal Raba quarry, Hanson Israel conducted an intensive legal assessment regarding the compatibility with International Humanitarian Law provisions in conjunction with a court case brought forward by Yesh Din in 2009. In December 2011 the Israeli High Court of Justice confirmed in its ruling HCJ 2164/09 of 26th December 2011, based on numerous convincing arguments, that the operation of Nahal Raba is in full legal compliance with national and international laws. In addition, they have set up stakeholder with interested parties in order to make the quality and impact of the local operations transparent.

    In this context and in addition, to the responses to your questions, they would like to clarify that the permitting of Nahal Raba quarry was fully in line with the provisions set out in article 55 of Hague Regulations of 1907 as Nahal Raba quarry was established on public land, which had been allocated for that purpose by the Civil Administration based on outline plans. The procedures for establishing a quarry in Judea and Samaria include checking land ownership, full statutory planning procedures and quarrying license procedures that permit the submission of objections. Based on the information they received no appropriation of private property has taken place, as no valid claims have been brought forward by local Palestinians during the permitting process of Nahal Raba quarry. The Palestinian Authority has also not brought forward any claims against Hanson Israel and HeidelbergCement that the establishment and operation of the Nahal Raba quarry violates international law.

    Furthermore, they would like to emphasise that Hanson Israel does not discriminate Palestinian customers. The reason that a majority of resources quarried in Area C by Israeli- and also by Palestinian-owned quarries is sold to the Israeli market, is based on the mere fact that the Israeli market has the higher demand and that the Palestinian Authority prevents deliveries to Area A and B by means of a boycott policy. They would also like to clarify that Hanson Israel does not sell construction materials for the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank or the security barrier.

    Based on the above mentioned facts, they are convinced that the operation of Nahal Raba is in line with the provisions of International Humanitarian Law and does not infringe the human rights and livelihoods of the Palestinian people. Quite to the contrary, they are convinced that the Palestinian population benefits from their operations due to the payment of royalties and provision of well-paid long-term employment opportunities and that a full cessation of their operations in the West Bank would have severe negative economic impacts for their Palestinian employees and their families, who compose the majority of their manpower in the West Bank.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us in case of any questions or need for clarification.

    Kind regards,

    HeidelbergCement AG

    Andreas Schaller

    Director

    Group Communication & Investor Relations

    Annex IX: Letter from Human Rights Watch to RE/MAX Israel

    April 21, 2015

     

    Bernard Raskin

    Chief Executive Officer

    RE/MAX Israel

     

    XXXXX XXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

     

    Dear Mr. Raskin,

     

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to businesses engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, non-governmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that RE/MAX Israel operates a franchise in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, that this and other franchises offer properties for sale or rent in Israeli settlements, and that RE/MAX international receives fees from the sales of settlement properties.

    We are writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views in their forthcoming report.

    According to RE/MAX Israel’s website, there is a RE/MAX franchise in the Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, in the West Bank, an area that has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. In addition, several RE/MAX franchises located inside Israel offer properties for sale or rent in Israeli settlements in the West bank. These properties, and the RE/MAX office in Ma’aleh Adumim, are located on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[402]

    Palestinian residents of the West Bank are also effectively barred from purchasing properties offered by RE/MAX in Israeli settlements.[403] RE/MAX Israel, which lists these properties on its website in Hebrew, but not in Arabic, clearly markets them to Israeli civilians. By assisting Israelis to relocate to Israeli settlements, RE/MAX may be facilitating the transfer by an occupying power of “its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” in violation of international law.[404]

    We understand too that RE/MAX Israel directly benefits from sales and rentals in Israeli settlements by collecting royalties and other fees on those sales and rentals.

    On September 10, 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 presented findings in which he concluded that the activities of RE/MAX International and its Israeli franchise in settlements contravened their responsibility to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.

    The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Companies articulate companies’ responsibility to protect and respect human rights. Under the Guiding Principles, companies have a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” Companies are expected to undertake adequate due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.”[405] RE/MAX Israel, as an affiliate of RE/MAX Europe, is also expected to adhere to that region’s Code of Ethics, which states that “its affiliates shall undertake to eliminate any practice by real estate professionals in their community which could be damaging to the public.”[406]

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

    1. How many properties in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, have RE/MAX agents contracted for sale or rent in the past 12 months (up to the end of March 2015)?

    2. How much revenue did RE/MAX Israel collect from such sales or rentals during that time period?

    3. Has RE/MAX Israel taken any steps following the publication of UN Special Rapporteur’s report on September 10, 2013, or at any other time, to prohibit its franchises from operating or offering properties in Israeli settlements? If so, please give details of these.

    4. Does RE/MAX International have a company-wide policy prohibiting its franchise operators or agents from engaging in discrimination against potential clients on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or national origin?

    a. If so, what policies are in place, if any, for ensuring agents comply with corporate rules prohibiting discrimination?

    b. If so, does the policy address sales and rentals in communities with discriminatory restrictions on potential residents?

    c. Has RE/MAX sold or rented any properties in settlements in the West Bank or East Jerusalem to Arabs? How many in the last 12 months?

    5. Does RE/MAX International have a human rights or corporate social responsibility policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.

    We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex X: Letter from Human Rights Watch to RE/MAX Holdings, Inc.

    April 21, 2015

    David Liniger

    Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder

    RE/MAX Holdings, Inc.

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear Mr. Liniger,

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to businesses engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, non-governmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that RE/MAX Israel operates a franchise in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, that this and other franchises offer properties for sale or rent in Israeli settlements, and that RE/MAX international receives fees from the sales of settlement properties. They are writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views in their forthcoming report.

    According to RE/MAX Israel’s website, there is a RE/MAX franchise in the Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, in the West Bank, an area that has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. In addition, several RE/MAX franchises located inside Israel offer properties for sale or rent in Israeli settlements in the West bank. These properties, and the RE/MAX office in Ma’aleh Adumim, are located on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[407]

    Palestinian residents of the West Bank are also effectively barred from purchasing properties offered by RE/MAX in Israeli settlements.[408] RE/MAX Israel, which lists these properties on its website in Hebrew, but not in Arabic, clearly markets them to Israeli civilians. By assisting Israelis to relocate to Israeli settlements, RE/MAX may be facilitating the transfer by an occupying power of “its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” in violation of international law.[409]

    We understand too that RE/MAX International directly benefits from sales and rentals in Israeli settlements by collecting royalties and other fees on those sales and rentals.

    On September 10, 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 presented findings in which he concluded that the activities of RE/MAX International and its Israeli franchise in settlements contravened RE/MAX International’s responsibility to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.

    The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Companies articulate companies’ responsibility to protect and respect human rights. Under the Guiding Principles, companies have a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” Companies are expected to undertake adequate due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.”[410]

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • How many properties in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, have RE/MAX agents contracted for sale or rent in the past 12 months (up to the end of March 2015)?
  • How much revenue did RE/MAX Israel and RE/MAX International, respectively, collect from such sales or rentals during that time period?
  • Has RE/MAX International taken any steps following the publication of UN Special Rapporteur’s report on September 10, 2013, or at any other time, to prohibit its franchises from operating or offering properties in Israeli settlements? If so, please give details of these.
  • Does RE/MAX International have a company-wide policy prohibiting its franchise operators or agents from engaging in discrimination against potential clients on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or national origin?
  • If so, what policies are in place, if any, for ensuring agents comply with corporate rules prohibiting discrimination?
  • If so, does the policy address sales and rentals in communities with discriminatory restrictions on potential residents?
  • Has RE/MAX sold or rented any properties in settlements in the West Bank or East Jerusalem to Arabs? How many in the past 12 months?
  • Does RE/MAX International have a human rights or corporate social responsibility policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex XI: Letter from Human Rights Watch to XXXXXXXXXXXX

    April 20, 2015

    XXXXXXXXXX

    Bank President

    XXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear Mr. XXXXX,

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to businesses engaged in activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that XXXXXXXXXX finances construction and provides mortgages for real estate in Israeli settlements. Consequently, I am writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views and comments in their forthcoming report.

    According to Human Rights Watch’s information, XXXXXXXXXX has an accompanying agreement with XXXXX for the development of Green Ariel, a construction project in Ariel. XXXXXXXXXX also provides mortgages to Israeli buyers in Green Ariel and elsewhere in Israeli settlements. The bank’s website advertises the pre-sale of apartments in several buildings under construction in settlements.

    Green Ariel, like all Israeli settlements, is built on land Israel appropriated in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[411] By financing construction and providing mortgages in Israeli settlements, XXXXXXXX would appear to be facilitating another Israeli violation of international law, the prohibition against the transfer by an occupying power “of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”[412]

    The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require business enterprises to carry out human rights due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.” Human rights due diligence should include impacts that a company “may cause or contribute to through its own activities, or which may be directly linked to its operations, products or services by its business relationships.”[413] Reflecting these responsibilities, XXXXXXXX2013 corporate social responsibility report noted that the “Bank ensures human rights in all its operations.”[414]

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • Does XXXXXXXX conduct due diligence to determine the legal status of the underlying land before providing financing or mortgages in Israeli settlements?
  • Does XXXXXXXX offer its clients preferential terms for mortgages in Israeli settlements? Do the bank’s clients receive subsidies or other preferential terms from the Israeli government, and from which the bank indirectly benefits, for the development or purchase of properties in Israeli settlements?
  • Is XXXXXXXX the accompanying bank for apartments it lists for pre-sale on its website?
  • Does XXXXXXXX have a human rights or corporate social responsibility due diligence policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex XII: Letter from Human Rights Watch to XXXXXXXXXXXX

    April 21, 2015

    XXXXXXXXXXX

    Chief Executive Officer

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear Mr. XXXXXX,

    We write to request information in connection with research that Human Rights Watch has carried out with regard to business activity related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which they plan to publish in the coming months.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Our research indicates that XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX acquired XXXXXX assets in Israel on April 1, 2015. It appears that some of these operations include settlement-related activities. Consequently, I am writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views and comments in their forthcoming report.

    According to information provided by Israel’s Civil Administration on January 17, 2013, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX owns and operates XXXXXXX XXXXXXX, located in the Jordan Valley. X.X.X also owns a permit to transport waste from Israel and Israeli settlements to the site. Their research indicates that SSSSs owned X.X.X. until your company acquired its assets in Israel, which they assume include RRRRR.

    As you may be aware, SSSSS is located on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people.[415] By servicing Israeli settlements, XXXXXXXXXXXXXX asset would appear to be facilitating another Israeli violation of international law, the prohibition against the transfer by an occupying power of “its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”[416]

    In 2012, XXXXXX told a journalist that the company sold the XXXXXX facilities the previous summer to the nearby settlement of Masua and that it was only involved in an advisory role for a “short tail off period.”[417] This information appears to contradict the information provided by the Civil Administration regarding XXXXXXX continued ownership of XXXXX.

    Companies have a responsibility to protect and respect human rights. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights articulate this as a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities,” as well as “seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships,even if theyhave not contributed to those impacts.” The Guiding Principles also direct companies to undertake adequate due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.”[418]

    We understand that XXXXXXXXX has only recently acquired XXXXXX Israel assets, but due diligence should have revealed the concerns outlined above given the media attention surrounding XXXXXXXXX role in XXXXXXX.

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • Does XXXXXXXXX own and/or operate XXXXXXXXX Landfill through its subsidiary XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX?
  • If not, what was the date of sale and to whom were the facilities sold? When were management operations transferred and to whom? Does XXXXXXXXX retain any role, as an advisor or otherwise, in managing XXXXXXXXX or transporting waste from Israel or Israeli settlements to waste treatment facilities in the occupied Palestinian territories? Please provide all relevant details.
  • If so, was XXXXXXXXX aware prior to its acquisition of XXXXXXXXX Israel assets that XXXXXXXXX is located in the occupied West Bank?
  • Are you aware, what amount, if any, of waste originating from Palestinian areas in the West Bank were processed at XXXXXX since XXXXX took ownership of XXXXX in 2007? What is the current amount of waste originating from Palestinian areas in the West Bank is processed at XXXXXX?
  • Does XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX have a human rights or corporate social responsibility due diligence policy? If so, please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex XIII: Letter from Human Rights Watch to XXXXXXXXXXXX

    April 21, 2015

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Associate General Councel

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear Ms. XXXXXX,

    We write to request information concerning commercial links between XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXX, a textile manufacturer and supplier that operates a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights in 90 countries around the world.

    Human Rights Watch will publish a report based on research they are conducting into business activities related to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Their research indicates that XXXXXX, which operates a factory in an Israeli settlement, has supplied textiles to XXXXXXXXXXXX.

    We are writing to seek your response to several questions, set out below. They would appreciate it if you could provide us with a reply by May 20, 2015 so that they can reflect your views in their forthcoming report.

    Based on publicly available bills of lading, XXXXXXXXXXXX appears to have received at least 12 shipments from XXXXXXXXXXXX between August 27, 2013 and July 29, 2014. XXXXXX, previously called XXXXXXXXXXXX, operates a factory in the Barkan industrial zone, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, according to a list of factories published on Barkan’s website. As such, the factory operates on land appropriated by Israel in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, which only permits an occupying power to appropriate property it occupies for military purposes or for the benefit of the occupied people. Their research also found that XXXXXX pays taxes to a settlement municipality, thereby facilitating another Israeli violation of international law, the prohibition against the transfer by an occupying power “of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

    Our research also indicates that XXXXXX has taken advantage of the two-tiered system that Israel operates in the West Bank, whereby Palestinians working in Israeli settlements are afforded significantly weaker labor rights protections than their Israeli colleagues, despite an Israeli High Court ruling in 2007 holding that Israeli labor laws apply to all employment relationships in settlements. Dozens of Palestinian employees filed lawsuits from 2008 to 2012 alleging that XXXXXX paid them significantly less than the minimum wage stipulated in Israeli law, and refused to provide social benefits such as sick days, vacations days, and overtime. Women workers reported being paid on average 2 shekels (US$0.50) less per hour than men, also in alleged violation of Israeli law. All cases settled out of court.

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report states that ethical sourcing is a core value of your company. The report commits to maintaining a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and unfair wage practices among suppliers. It further states that “suppliers are evaluated through independent third-party audits, on-site assessments, and supplier questionnaires to confirm that they are conforming to their strict requirements related to worker safety and health.”

    The principles and practices described in your company’s report clearly incorporate the human rights responsibilities articulated by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As the Guiding Principles make clear, business enterprises are responsible for carrying out human rights due diligence “in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts.” Human rights due diligence should include impacts that a company “may cause or contribute to through its own activities, or which may be directly linked to its operations, products or services by its business relationships.”

    Based on those considerations, they would appreciate receiving your responses to the following questions:

  • Can you confirm that XXXXXX is a supplier to XXXXXXXXXXXX? If so, please describe the duration and nature of your business relationship with XXXXXX and whether your company is aware that it operates a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
  • What is your company’s policy, if any, with regard to sourcing goods from factories in Israeli settlements? Please provide us with relevant details.
  • Has XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX received any goods produced in XXXXXX Barkan industrial zone factory? If so, please describe the volume, nature, and value of those goods. If not, please describe why XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX has not received goods produced at the Barkan industrial zone factory.
  • Has your company evaluated XXXXXX, in line with your corporate responsibility policy, through a third party audit, on-site assessment, or supplier questionnaire? If such an investigation took place, what were the findings? Please provide us with relevant details.
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex XIV: Letter from Human Rights Watch to XXXXXXXXXXXX

    April 28, 2015

    XXXXXXXXXXX

    Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories

    XXXXXXXXXX

    The office of the legal advisor to Samaria and Judea

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Dear Ms. XXXXX,

    Human Rights Watch has carried out research regarding several settlements and nearby Palestinian communities in the West Bank, the findings of which they plan to publish in a report.

    We write now to provide you with a summary of their interim findings, and to request further information relating to those findings that they can take into account and reflect in their forthcoming report. To facilitate this, they request that you provide us with your reply, including answers to the questions listed below and any other comments that you consider appropriate, by May 21, 2015.

    Our research focused on the settlements of Ariel and the Barkan industrial zone, as well as the neighboring Palestinian communities of Salfit, Marda, and Haris. They found that the Israel apparently appropriated land from Palestinian landowners for the construction of Ariel and Barkan, and that these authorities severely restrict Palestinian access to land encompassed by the separation barrier surrounding Ariel. It also appears that the military authorities make it very difficult for Palestinians living in Area C to obtain the permits that they require in order to undertake such activities as constructing new buildings or infrastructure, operating quarries, or establishing waste treatment facilities. In addition, their research indicates that Palestinians working in Israeli settlements are afforded significantly weaker labor protections than their Israeli colleagues, despite a 2007 High Court ruling in Kav LaOved v. National Labor Court that Israeli labor laws apply to all employment relationships in settlements. They have not been able to identify a lawful justification for this apparent differential treatment.

    Further, their research indicates that the Civil Administration has revoked or denied Palestinians permits to work in settlements due to actions of family members or for other illegitimate reasons.

    General Questions

  • Does the Civil Administration consider that it has a responsibility to conform with Israel's obligations under the 1907 Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Palestinian population of the West Bank, such as the bar on the appropriation of property in an occupied territory except for reasons of military necessity or for the benefit of the occupied people?
  • Does the Civil Administration view itself as responsible for conforming to Israel’s obligations under international human rights law regarding the Palestinian population of the West Bank, including with regard to international legal prohibitions against discrimination?
  • Land Appropriations and Restrictions

  • According to their information, the Israeli military appropriated privately owned Palestinian land for the construction of Ariel and Barkan and related infrastructure. In some cases, the land is not formally registered, but individuals have tax documents and other evidence of ownership.
  • Does the Civil Administration take Palestinian tax documents into account as evidence of land ownership when it determines whether or not land may be declared as state land?
  • Does the Israeli government provide compensation to Palestinians for land it appropriates from them?
  • Has the Civil Administration allocated any land declared to be “state land” for the natural growth of Salfit, Marda, or Haris? If so, how much land was allocated in each case, and when?
  • According to their information, many Palestinians own land encompassed by the separation barrier surrounding Ariel, which the military permits them to access during only two or three periods a year with prior military coordination. Their research indicates that the during harvesting season in 2014 such access was permitted from October 15 to 25, except on Friday afternoon and Saturday, but that during this period the military opened the gates to permit entry only for a limited time in the morning and in the late afternoon. It also prohibits Palestinians from entering with cars, and only permits Palestinians who own land in the affected area to bring in one tractor during harvest season. They understand also that the military authorities require Palestinians to obtain permits before they can plant new tree seedlings on their lands.
  • On how many days did Palestinian landowners have access to their land in the area inside the barrier around Ariel in 2014?
  • On days when access is permitted, for how many hours per day are Palestinians able to access their lands, and at what times do the authorities open and close the gates in the barrier to enable Palestinians to pass through them?
  • Please provide the number of Palestinian requests to plant tree seedlings in the area that have been (i) received and (ii) approved in 2014.
  • What measures, if any, has the Civil Administration taken to prevent damage to Palestinian crops and trees in this area, such as by prohibiting animals belonging to settlers from entering?
  • Permits

  • Is it possible for Palestinian residents of the West Bank to obtain security permits from the Civil Administration to enter settlements for the purpose of purchasing property and living in them? If so, please describe the permits required, the process by which they may be obtained, how many applications have been received, and how many permits have been issued.
  • Our research indicates that it is very difficult for Palestinians to obtain construction permits for residential or economic purposes in Area C, and similarly difficult to obtain permits for resource extraction and public infrastructure. They understand that the Civil Administration approved less than 2 percent of Palestinian applications for construction permits in 2009 and 2010; that it has not issued any permits to Palestinian companies to open quarries in Area C since 1994; and that it has denied most requests to renew existing licenses. Is this correct? Please also inform us:
  • How many Palestinian building permit requests were received, and how many were approved, from 2012 to 2014?
  • For the same period, how many building permit applications were received and approved from Israeli citizens in the West Bank?
  • How many Palestinian requests to operate a quarry in Area C were received and approved since 1994?
  • How many Palestinian-owned quarries are currently authorized to operate in Area C, and how many currently authorized quarries within Area C are owned by Israeli or international companies?
  • According to their information, in 2014, the Civil Administration made approval of a permit for the operation of al-Minya waste treatment facility near Bethlehem contingent on it accepting waste from Israeli settlements. They understand that the permit was later issued without such an agreement, but that settlement waste is currently brought to the site by military escort. Is this correct? Please also inform us:
  • What are the criteria for approving permits for waste treatment sites in Area C?
  • How much waste was transported from Israeli settlements to al-Minya facility in 2014?
  • If Palestinian officials agreed to settlements’ use of the site, please provide information about the terms of the agreement.
  • How many waste treatment facilities are currently authorized to operate in Area C? How much Israeli-origin and Palestinian-origin waste is processed by each site?
  • How many applications to operate waste treatment facilities did the Civil Administration reject since 1994, how many applications remain pending, and in each case, what are the reasons for rejection or lack of approval?
  • Labor Protections

  • According to their information, the Israeli military commander issued three military orders improving labor protections for Palestinians employed in Israel settlements beyond those afforded by Jordanian law. The first, issued in 1976, requires insurance for workplace injuries; the second, issued in 1982 and amended in 2007 to apply to settlement industrial zones, requires employers to pay the minimum wage as stipulated in Israeli law; and the third, issued in October 2013, incorporates the Women Workers Act. In 2007, the High Court ruled that Israeli settlement employers’ treatment of Palestinian employees must comply with Israeli labor law.
  • What is the Civil Administration’s responsibility in implementing and enforcing labor protections in settlements?
  • Which labor laws does the Civil Administration enforce for Israelis, and which does it enforce for Palestinians employed in settlements?
  • Does the Israeli military commander intend to implement the 2007 High Court ruling, and if so when?
  • According to their information, the Civil Administration is responsible for enforcing compliance with military orders, including those relating to protecting Palestinian workers in settlements.
  • Please provide the number of staff positions assigned to enforce labor laws in settlements in the Civil Administration.
  • How many settlement companies has the Civil Administration audited, checked or investigated for conformity with labor laws since 2010?
  • How many settlement employers did the Civil Administration fine or otherwise discipline for labor violations against Palestinian workers, and how many has it fined or disciplined for violations against Israeli workers?
  • Work Permits

  • According to their information, Palestinians may be precluded from obtaining a permit to work in a settlement, or their permit may be revoked, without their being informed of the specific reason for the decision. In some cases that Human Rights Watch examined, it appeared that Palestinians were precluded from obtaining such permits by reason of their family connection to a person involved in a security incident. In other cases, Palestinians who were denied a permit to work in a settlement told Human Rights Watch that they believed their employer had initiated their preclusion or the revocation of their permit ostensibly on security grounds as an act of retaliation because of their complaints against working conditions or to avoid paying them severance. Some Palestinians said they did not know why the authorities had revoked their permit or declined to renew it.
  • Please state the criteria used for granting, revoking, or renewing work-permits for Palestinians in settlements.
  • Please indicate the process through which Palestinians may challenge their preclusion from obtaining a permit.
  • How many preclusions were challenged in 2014 and what was the results of such challenges?
  • How many Palestinian requests for a permit to work in a settlement did the Civil Administration receive in 2014, how many requests did it approve, and how many permits did it revoke?
  • We would welcome receiving any additional information or comments that you are able to provide.

    We would also welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you or other representatives of your company. If you would like to arrange such a discussion, please contact their colleagues Sarkis Balkhian (xxxx@hrw.org) or Darcy Milburn (xxxx@hrw.org).

    Thank you for your kind assistance in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Leah Whitson Chris Albin-Lackey

    Executive Director Acting Director

    Middle East and North Africa Division Business and Human Rights Division

    Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch

    Annex XV:RE/MAX Letter to Code Pink

    From: Re/Max Newsroom newsroom@remax.com

    Subject:Re/Mac LLC Statement on Franchise Operations in the West Bank

    RE/MAA LLC Statement on Franchise Opetation in the West Bank (Denver,CO - November 14,2014)RE/MAX understands the serious nature of teh controversy surrounding real estates operations in teh West Bank and has been working to a find a resolution that is acceptable to all parties. To better understand the situation, it is important to know how the RE/MAX organization is structured

    As a franchise organization, each RE/MAX office is independently owned and operated. Additionally, RE/MAX is proud to offer its franchisees great autonomy in the operation of their businesses. In 1995, RE/MAX LLC sold the franchise rights for Europe, which included Israel. RE/MAX Europe then sold the rights to use the RE/MAX brand to the current owner of RE/MAX Israel.As a result, RE/MAX LLC has no contractual agreement with RE/MAX Israel.

    However, a few years ago it came to their attention that four offices using the RE/MAX brand were located in the West Bank. One was found to be illegally using the protected RE/MAX marks, and legal action was taken against that office. Another office has been closed, and one was moved from the West Bank to another location elsewhere in Jerusalem. At this time, there is only one RE/MAX office remaining in the West Bank, and RE/MAX LLX is exploring possible options for this office

    Earlier this year, RE/MAX LLC considered placing the West Bank within the master franchise for the country of Jordan, and for several months has been actively searching for investors to purchase that combined region. It is hoped that an announcement can be made soon regarding this development.

    It is important to note that a UN Report on the Palestinian territories distributed in 2013 contained factual errors about the RE/MAX organization. The authors of this report never consulted RE/MAX LLC during their research process to verify any information about RE/MAX

    RE/MAX LLC has long recognized the concerns that have been raised about a presence in the West Bank, and has taken specific actions to remedy the situation. RE/MAX LLC continues to work toward an equitable solution and remains committed to policies that are respectful of the rights of all individuals



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