Israeli banks involved in financing illegal settlements in Palestine, Who Profits' report

Israeli banks provide financial services for construction and infrastructure projects in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements and provide loans to regional and local councils of settlements in the West Bank. Reports by WhoProfits have focused on the responsibility of these banks for the continued occupation of Palestinian land. The reports revealed that all Israeli banks except Dexia Israel provide special loans to construction and infrastructure projects in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, all Israeli banks with no exception provide loans and financial services to local and regional councils of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and most banks have several branches in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A later report by Human Rights Watch has also focused on the responsibility of Israeli banks and has purportedly disproved the claim that the banks are required by Israeli law to provide financial services to settlements. Further allegations by BDS France have highlighted the role of AXA Insurance in financing some of these banks.

The Resource Centre contacted a number of Israeli banks mentioned in the reports. Bank Hapoalim, Leumi Bank, Bank of Jerusalem, Dexia, FIBI, Israel Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot and Union Bank of Israel (Igud) have not responded.

AXA responded to allegations raised by BDS France.

The Association of Banks in Israel had responded in 2014 to an earlier outreach by the Resource Centre to Israeli Banks following a report by WhoProfits in 2013.

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Article
1 November 2013

Financing the Israeli Occupation: The Current Involvement of Israeli Banks in Israeli Settlement Activity

Author: Who Profits

[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the banks mentioned in the report to respond. Response by the Association of Banks in Israel provided] Who Profits'...report reveals that all the Israeli banks are still heavily involved in financing Israeli settlements, providing services to settlements and financially supporting construction projects on occupied land...Who Profits' research identified six categories of involvement of Israeli banks in the occupation...1.Providing mortgage loans for homebuyers in settlements...Leumi Bank provides mortgages for homebuyers in the settlements of Zufim, Ariel and Beitar Ilit; Mizrahi-Tefahot bank provides mortgages for homebuyers in the settlements of Ariel, Beit Arye (Ofarim), Beitar Ilit, Imanuel and Modi'in Ilit 2.Providing financial services to Israeli local authorities in the West Bank and the Golan Heights...Dexia Israel also provided a loan for waste management systems in the settlement of Bat Ayin, and a guarantee for a project of the Israeli Ministry of Defense to install lighting around Kdumim settlement...Gush Etzion regional council receives its State funds through Dexia Israel...3.Providing special loans for construction projects in settlements...Hapoalim and Leumi banks acted as a guarantor and loan maker to major construction companies such as Heftziba and Shikun & Binui...that built projects in the settlements of Ma'ale Adumim and Har Homa. These banks also guarantee the state loans to companies that built the Light Rail in Jerusalem...4.Operating branches in Israeli settlements...5.Providing financial services to businesses in settlements...6.Benefiting from access to the Palestinian monetary market as a captured market

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Article
1 November 2013

[PDF] Financing the Israeli Occupation The Current Involvement of Israeli Banks in Israeli Settlement Activity

Author: Who Profits

Who Profits' research identified six categories in which Israeli banks are involved in the occupation: providing mortgage loans for homebuyers in settlements; providing financial services to settlements' local authorities; providing special loans for construction projects in settlements; operating branches in Israeli settlements; providing financial services to businesses in settlements; and benefiting from access to the Palestinian monetary market as a captured market. Additionally, as Who Profits' report shows, it is evident that the banks are well aware of the types and whereabouts of the activity that is being carried out with their financial assistance.

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Company response
4 March 2014

Response to Allegations against Banks in Israel

Author: Association of Banks in Israel

[T]he Association of Banks in Israel is an umbrella organization, operating on behalf of all local banks…WhoProfits clearly drafted the report to advance a political agenda. Nevertheless, we do see value in ensuring that the broader community not be misled by the narrative presented in the report, which disregards and misrepresents a wide range of factual and legal aspects…Israel’s developed banking laws and regulations ensure that banks conduct their activity in full compliance with both legal and ethical standards. The banks are not guided by political considerations in the provision of services, and are further subject to ongoing supervision by the Bank of Israel and other domestic governmental bodies, as well as by international institution…Parties who feel they have been wronged by the banks have a wide range of remedies…[B]anks in Israel are at the forefront of corporate social responsibility in the country, with internal codes of ethics reflecting both the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights…These mechanisms…ensure that banks avoid contributing to human rights violations, environmental damage…Israeli banks are committed to providing banking services without discrimination based on race, religion, country of origin, place of residence, nationality…The underlying "theme" of the WhoProfits report is that private institutions, through ongoing professional commercial activities related to the West Bank and Golan Heights, are somehow complicit in Israel’s alleged violations of international law…WhoProfits presents and represents one narrative out of several; a narrative which assumes as fact that all Israeli…commercial activities beyond the “Green Line” are inherently unlawful. This position is presented by WhoProfits as fact, notwithstanding Israeli (and international) judicial rulings to the contrary…We view it as unreasonable, as well as highly undesirable, to demand that financial institutions…be required to adopt and embrace political positions.

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Article
13 August 2017

Report: Israeli banks financing construction & occupation of illegal settlements in the West Bank; banks invited to respond to allegations

Author: Who Profits

"Financing land grab: The direct involvement of Israeli banks in the Israeli settlement enterprise",  February 2017

Israeli banks provide the financial infrastructure for all the activities of companies, governmental agencies and individuals linked to the continuing occupation of Palestinian land. The following report focuses on the central role that Israeli banks play in construction and infrastructure projects in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements and in providing loans to regional and local councils of settlements in the West Bank. The findings of this report reveal that all Israeli banks except Dexia Israel provide special loans to construction and infrastructure projects in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, all Israeli banks with no exception provide loans and financial services to local and regional councils of Israeli settlements in the West Bank...Furthermore, most Israeli banks have several branches in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The different banks operate 33 branches in those settlements, through which they provide financial services to settlers and commercial companies in settlements, thereby enabling the continued maintenance and development of the settlements...

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Company non-response
14 August 2017

Bank Hapoalim has not responded re allegations of financing Israeli settlements

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Bank Hapoalim to respond to Who Profits' "Financing Land Grab" report, but has not received a response.

Company non-response
14 August 2017

Bank of Jerusalem has not responded re allegations of financing Israeli settlements

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Bank of Jerusalem to respond to Who Profits' "Financing Land Grab" report, but has not received a response.

Company non-response
14 August 2017

Dexia has not responded re allegations of financing Israeli settlements

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Dexia to respond to Who Profits' "Financing Land Grab" report, but has not received a response.

Company non-response
14 August 2017

First International Bank of Israel (FIBI) has not responded re allegations of financing Israeli settlements

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited FIBI to respond to Who Profits' "Financing Land Grab" report, but has not received a response.

Company non-response
14 August 2017

Israel Discount Bank has not responded re allegations of financing Israeli settlements

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Israel Discount Bank to respond to Who Profits' "Financing Land Grab" report, but has not received a response.

Company non-response
14 August 2017

Leumi has not responded re allegations of financing Israeli settlements

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Leumi to respond to Who Profits' "Financing Land Grab" report, but has not received a response yet.