Israel’s biggest banks are heavily involved in financing Israel’s construction of colonies in the occupied West Bank, a war crime. Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills
Dutch pension fund ABP announced last month that it has stopped investing in two Israeli banks involved in Israel’s violent colonization of the occupied West Bank.
ABP is the biggest pension fund in the Netherlands, and one of the world’s largest, with about $500 billion in assets.
It says it wants its investments to “contribute to a sustainable world.”
In areas where there is an increased risk of human rights violations, like the West Bank, ABP requires companies it invests in to have in place a human rights policy.
Not only do Israel’s Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi have no such policy, but both are heavily involved in building settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
All of Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in Syria’s Golan Heights, is a war crime.
ABP spokesperson Jos van Dijk confirmed the divestment from the two banks in a phone call with The Electronic Intifada.
For over a decade, many organizations and thousands of individuals have expressed their concerns over ABP’s investments in settlement profiteers.
In 2014, former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote to ABP’s board calling for divestment from the Israeli banks.
Investing in Israeli institutions that lend to repressive and illegal projects “helps perpetuate the cycle of violence,” he argued.
However, the Israeli banks do not appear on ABP’s exclusions list, van Dijk said, because only firms involved in tobacco production, nuclear arms and cluster weapons are listed.
Named on the exclusion list are Israeli arms firms Aryt Industries, Ashot Ashkelon and Elbit Systems.
Investing in occupation.