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Norwegian pension fund divests from Israeli occupation

Norway’s largest pension fund has excluded two companies “on the grounds of their exploitation of natural resources in occupied territory on the West Bank.”

KLP, which manages a US$70 billion investment portfolio, formally excluded Heidelberg Cement and Cemex on June 1, following a period of investigation and engagement. The combined worth of KLP’s shareholdings in both HeidelbergCement and Cemex was approximately $5 million.

Heidelberg Cement and Cemex, leading global suppliers of building materials, operate quarries in the West Bank through their respective Israeli subsidiaries. According to KLP, “the companies pay licence fees and royalties to the state of Israel” while “the products deriving from the quarries are sold primarily for use in Israel’s domestic construction market.”

Based on “a review of applicable international law”, which the company explained in a separate document, KLP concluded that “the companies’ operations are associated with violations of fundamental ethical norms.”

Citing a previous similar case in Western Sahara, KLP noted that the quarries in question were opened after 1967, when Israel’s occupation began. “The opening of a quarry in occupied territory”, KLP said, “is in all probability incompatible with Article 55 of the Hague Regulations.”

The fund, which manages the retirement assets of Norwegian public sector workers, also excluded a further eight companies on the grounds of their income from coal-based operations, corruption, environmental damage, and the production of tobacco.

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