Israel & Palestine: Dutch pension fund to withdraw investments from Israel's 5 largest banks over intl. law "problem" due to ties with settlements in West Bank; includes companies comments

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Article
8 January 2014

Largest Dutch pension fund boycotts Israeli banks over settlement ties (Israel & Palestine)

Author: Barak Ravid, Haaretz

PGGM...has decided to withdraw all its investments from Israel’s five largest banks because they have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements. [PGGM informed] Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, the First International Bank of Israel and Israel Discount Bank that their ties with the settlements, and/or companies involved in building in the settlements, created a problem from the standpoint of international law...The Israeli banks responded that Israeli law doesn’t allow them to cease providing service to entities connected to the settlements. Nor, given the daily reality in which the banks operate, would this even be feasible.

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Article
8 January 2014

[PDF] PGGM – Statement regarding exclusion of Israeli banks (Israel & Palestine)

Author: PGGM

PGGM...decided to no longer invest in five Israeli banks, namely Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. For several years PGGM has been in dialogue with these banks. The reason for this engagement was their involvement in financing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This was a concern, as the settlements in the Palestinian territories are considered illegal under international humanitarian law...In line with the Responsible Investment policy a dialogue has taken place with the...banks...The dialogue showed...that, given the day-to-day reality and domestic legal framework they operate in, the banks have limited to no possibilities to end their involvement in the financing of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories...[I]t was concluded that engagement as a tool to bring about change will not be effective in this case. As concerns remain and changes are not expected in the foreseeable future, PGGM no longer invests in the companies concerned as of January 1st 2014.

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Article
8 January 2014

[PDF] Second-largest Dutch pension fund manager PGGM withdraws all investments from Israeli banks over settlement activities

Author: Al-Haq

Al-Haq welcomes the decision by PGGM, the second-largest pension fund manager in the Netherlands, to withdraw its investments from five Israeli banks involved in financing activities related to the settlements located in Occupied Palestinian Territory...Al-Haq further welcomes the decision of the Stichting Pensioenfonds Zorg & Welzijn (PFZW), one of the pension funds managed by PGGM, to add the five Israeli banks to its exclusion list, “following [the Israeli banks’] engagement on activities contrary to international humanitarian law.” Al-Haq...commends PGGM on its reference to international humanitarian law...as a basis for its assessment in making its due diligence process. “Today, we saw one of the world's larger pension asset managers taking an important step towards recognising the contribution of Israeli banks to the perpetuation of the settlements enterprise...PGGM recognised that the difficulty in distinguishing between the banks’ activities in Israel proper and their activities in the settlements stood in the way of adhering to its own ‘responsible investment policy...This decision indicates an important development in the interpretation of corporate social responsibility to include international humanitarian law as part of the due diligence process,”...[refers to Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Elbit Systems, Vitens, Mekorot, Royal HaskoningDHV]

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