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Major European pension funds heavily invested in Israeli settlements

January 31, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Settlement constructions by Israel continues in east of Jerusalem [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu]

Europe’s five largest pension funds have €7.5 billion invested in companies with business activities in and around Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), according to a new investigation by a Danish media and research centre.

According to Danwatch, the five funds in question – the Government Pension Fund of Norway,  Dutch government pension fund ABP, Dutch pension fund PFZW, Danish pension plan ATP, and Swedish pension fund Alecta – are invested in 36 Israeli and international publicly-traded companies, “most of which have long been under public scrutiny because of their activities in the [OPT].”

As noted by Danwatch, “18 European countries warn their citizens and businesses in no uncertain terms against undertaking financial and economic activities that could support illegal Israeli settlements” in the OPT.

The report also points out that the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2011) and United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (2011) both serve as warnings to businesses about ties to Israeli settlements.

The investigation revealed that the largest single investor is the Government Pension Fund of Norway, with €5.2 billion out of the total €7.5 billion invested in all 36 companies on Danwatch’s list.

This includes €135 million in Caterpillar, “which supplies bulldozers for the demolition of Palestinian homes”, €286 million in HeidelbergCement, “which has been blacklisted by several other European investors due to exploitation of Palestinian natural resources”, and €1.5 billion in Siemens, “which has installed traffic systems on Israeli roads in the West Bank.

Danwatch reports that the Norwegian Government Pension Fund also has €233 million in five Israeli banks “financing settlement construction and operating in the West Bank in various ways”: Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel Ltd, Israel Discount Bank Ltd and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.

The full investigation can be read here.