The database, released Wednesday after years of delays, listed 112 companies that the United Nations human rights office said are complicit in rights violations by bolstering Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. The plan turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel, which has angered Palestinians.
But the release prompted a Palestinian threat of legal action against the firms, and raised concerns that the companies could be targets of boycotts or divestment to pressure Israel over its settlements.
"I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious", said Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, who was tasked with producing the database.
"The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database, which was mandated by the discredited U.N. Human Rights Council in 2016", he said in a statement released by the U.S. State Department. The list includes major Israeli banks such as Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Bank Beinleumi, as well as major mobile telecommunications operators, retail and manufacturers.
The report does not have any concrete impact on the companies that were singled out.
In a statement, Netanyahu called the rights council "unimportant". Instead of the organization dealing with human rights, it only attempts to discredit Israel.
"We strongly reject this contemptible effort".
About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. Almost 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank, in addition to more than 200,000 in east Jerusalem.
The process of creating the database was quite lengthy - the idea of it was initially floated back in 2017, when the inclusion of over 200 companies was hinted at, though the finished document lists a little over half this number.
Following what it said was a thorough review and assessment of all information available, the OHCHR presented a report on Wednesday identifying 112 business entities that it said, there were reasonable grounds to conclude, had been involved in one or more of those activities. The company's products are offered through a local dealer, Comasco, that also appeared on the list.
Countries like Libya, Venezuela and Somalia are now among member states, and China's term finished at the end of 2019.
Israel is the only country subject to a dedicated agenda item at the Council, meaning the Jewish state's conduct is automatically discussed at each session. The settlements are considered illegal under global law. It comes months after the US announced that it no longer considers West Bank settlements to be illegal and weeks after President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan which allows for Israeli sovereignty over those communities.
This warm US embrace could cause trouble for Israel.
The rights council, which is made up of 47 governments, had never before requested such a list scrutinizing corporate activities. The report said its authors had communicated directly with the companies to allow them to defend themselves or say whether they had changed their practices.
The report recommended that the database be updated annually, and urged the Human Rights Council to appoint a group of independent experts to handle this task. The movement says it advocates nonviolent tactics to protest Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
Israel says the movement seeks the country's destruction and accuses it of anti-Semitism - a charge that BDS leaders vociferously reject.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted the UN "hit a new low today publishing its Antisemitic blacklist of companies it claims are involved in Israeli 'settlement activity'".