Dutch pension fund quits Israeli banks over settlements

January 09, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

THE HAGUE: Dutch pension asset manager PGGM, one of the largest in the country, said yesterday it was divesting from five Israeli banks because they finance Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The announcement comes a month after a major Dutch water supplier ended a partnership with an Israeli water company which supplies Israeli towns and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“PGGM recently decided to no longer invest in five Israeli banks,” said the company, which manages about ¤153bn ($208bn)in funds. “The reason for this was their involvement in financing Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories,” PGGM said in a statement.

PGGM said there was “a concern, as the settlements in the Palestinian territories are considered illegal under humanitarian law,” and regarded by international observers as an “important obstacle to a peaceful (two-state) solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

It said it would no longer do business with the Hapoalim and Leumi banks, the First National Bank of Israel, the Israel Discount Bank and the Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. PGGM added it based its decision on a 2004 UN International Court of Justice ruling that the Jewish settlements were in breach of the Geneva Convention relating to occupying powers transferring their own citizens into occupied territories.

The group said it had been discussing the issue with the Israeli banks “for several years” but that the banks “have limited to no possibilities to end their involvement in the financing of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”AFP