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European pension funds increase Israel boycott pressure

March 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

According to a report in The Financial Times today, three major European pension funds with a combined total of almost €500 billion of assets are “reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks over concerns that the banks finance illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian-occupied territories.”

The three investors are Dutch ABP, the world’s third-largest pension fund, Nordea Investment Management, and DNB Asset Management. In addition, Norwegian pension fund KLP has confirmed it will be examining “dilemmas linked to financing [of Israeli settlements]”.

An ABP spokesperson said the fund might exclude the stocks “as a last resort” if the banks fail to act. Nordea, meanwhile, is expected to meet the Israeli banks in March and take a decision on a possible withdrawal of investment at a meeting in May.

As the FT highlights, “the reviews come after PGGM, the second-largest Dutch pension fund, two weeks ago became the first big investor to dump its holdings in five large Israeli banks : Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot.”

The news comes two days after Israeli television broadcast remarks by the government’s top negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who warned that a “crisis” in the peace process will see Israel hit by a “wave” of boycott pressure. Last week, Shas party chair Aryeh Deri urged financial assistance to business owners in the West Bank “hurt by international boycotts”.