First Bank decides to Divest! Dutch Civil Society challenges investments in the Occupation
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First Bank decides to Divest! Dutch Civil Society challenges investments in the Occupation

Solidarity activists and the Palestinian community in the Netherlands have achieved a major success for the divestment movement as the first Bank decides to divest from Veolia, a company that actively supports Israeli colonization, and “all companies that benefit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory”. Veolia is a major stakeholder in the tramway built in occupied Jerusalem.

After an exchange of letters between the activists and the bank regarding the issue, a group of activists have been meeting with directors of the ASN Bank to discuss their request that the Bank divests from Veolia shares. Veolia is the mother company of Connex, the service provider that will run the tramway built to connect the settlements in occupied Jerusalem. (For more see our fact sheet click here. )

In a positive step toward ending economic support for the Occupation, ASN announced that not only would it end its relationship with Veolia, but also with all companies that benefit from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

The groundbreaking outcome of this meeting is another important step in the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions and hopefully will lead the way ahead for other banks to follow this example.

For a full account of the story click here.

In an additional effort, the Dutch NGO platform United for Justice and Peace has recently issued a lengthy report denouncing the dozens of Dutch companies who support or facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian land.

The investigation implemented by a research institute on the request of UCP is presumably not exhaustive. However, it already identifies 35 Dutch companies that maintain direct or indirect relations with the Palestinian and Syrian lands occupied in ’67: 21 companies with headquarters in the Netherlands and 14 Dutch subsidiaries of Israeli companies.
Two of these companies have direct investments in settlements, namely Soda-Club International and Unilever.

UCP states that “The activities of these companies run counter to the answers that the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Bot gave to the Dutch Parliament at the end of 2005. At that time, the Minister stated that he was unaware of any Dutch companies that invest in the occupied Palestinian territories or that have trade relations with companies located in Israeli settlements in these territories.”

The full report in English is available here.

These initiatives, while limited to the problematic of the Occupation and its crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza strip, are important moves forward towards a new solidarity aimed at directly affecting the profitability of the Occupation and are crucial successes for the global BDS movement.