Updated at 2:26 p.m.
Following a United Nations investigator's call for a boycott of Caterpillar Inc. and other businesses that profit from Israeli settlements in Palestine, the construction equipment company has hired a Covington & Burling lobbyist in Washington.
Covington partner Stuart Eizenstat, a former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union who leads the firm's international practice, is advocating for the Peoria, Ill.-based company on "U.S. government relations regarding a report by the United Nations' Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories," according to lobbying registration paperwork he filed with Congress on December 21.
Richard Falk, the U.N. Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, pushed for the boycott in a September 19 report to the U.N. He wrote in the report that Caterpillar "continues to ignore the human rights implications of its activities in the occupied Palestinian territory," where Israel deploys the company's bulldozers and other construction equipment for demolition.
"Businesses should not breach international humanitarian law provisions," Falk said in a written statement released on October 25. "Nor should they be complicit in any breaches."
Eizenstat couldn't immediately be reached for comment. But Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said in a written statement that his company is "deeply disappointed by the inaccurate and misleading report" from Falk.
"Caterpillar appreciates and understands the concerns raised over the complex and longstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinian Territories," Dugan said. "It is our hope that there will be a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have compassion for all people affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we extend our compassion to those who have suffered on both sides of the conflict."
Caterpillar spent $3.16 million on federal lobbying during the first three quarters of 2012, according to congressional records. For its government affairs work, the firm used its own staffers, as well as lobbyists from the Federal Policy Group and Washington Tax Group.