The international body had come under enormous pressure to keep the database under wraps after lobbying behind the scenes from Israel, the United States and many of the 200-plus companies that were about to be named.
UN officials have suggested they may go public with the list in a few months.
But with no progress since the UN's Human Rights Council requested the database back in early 2016, Palestinian leaders are increasingly fearful that it has been permanently shelved.
That was exactly what Israel hoped for. When efforts were first made to publish the list in 2017, Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the UN, warned: "We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day."
He added that penalizing the settlements was "an expression of modern anti-Semitism".
Both Israel and the US pulled out of the Human Rights Council last year, claiming that Israel was being singled out.
Israel has good reason to fear greater transparency. Bad publicity would most likely drive many of these firms, a few of them household names, out of the settlements under threat of a consumer backlash and a withdrawal of investments by religious organizations and pension funds.
The UN has reportedly already warned Coca-Cola, Teva Pharmaceuticals, the defense electronics company Elbit Systems and Africa Israel Investments of their likely inclusion. Israeli telecoms and utility companies are particularly exposed because grids serving the settlements are integrated with those in Israel.
There is an added danger that the firms might be vulnerable to prosecutions, should the International Criminal Court at The Hague eventually open an investigation into whether the settlements constitute a war crime, as the Palestinian leadership has demanded.
The exodus of these firms from the West Bank would, in turn, make it much harder for Israel to sustain its colonies on stolen Palestinian land. As a result, efforts to advance a Palestinian state would be strengthened.