Norwegian Government Pension Fund and Danish Bank exclude two Israeli Companies
Posted inNews /

Norwegian Government Pension Fund and Danish Bank exclude two Israeli Companies

Last Thursday, the 30th of January, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) announced its reconsideration over the previous decision made in August 2013, which rescinded the 2010 ban over two Israeli companies, Africa Israel Investments and its construction subsidiary, Danya Cebus. The re-exclusion was made due to “an unacceptable risk of the companies, through their construction activity in East Jerusalem, contributing to serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict”, as stated by the recommendation report made by the Norwegian Council on Ethics in September.[1] A day later, Danske Bank, the biggest Danish bank, announced it was pulling out of the two companies as well as of the Israeli bank Hapoalim for the same reasons.

In 2010, Africa Israel Investments Ltd (AFI) and Danya Cebus were excluded from the 450 billion strong Oil Fund, due to the companies’ involvement in building activities in the illegal Israeli settlements of Modi'in Illit and Maale Adumim, in the West Bank[2]. The village council of Jayyous, loosing its land to the company’s settlement construction[3], Palestinian and international organizations as well as Norwegian civil society had lobbied the Fund. This time, it was their engagement on the construction of the Gilo settlement, located in the occupied East Jerusalem and build on land confiscated from the Palestinian communities of Beit Jala, Sharafat and Beit Safafa, in the West Bank[4].

Last fall, both companies were reincluded after they claimed to the Council on Ethics that they had ceased their building activities in the settlements. However, Danya Cebus is still the main entrepreneur in the C-Jerusalem building project in Gilo, an illegal settlement in East Jerusalem.

Stop the Wall joined a protest letter by Palestinian and international organizations highlighting that the Israeli companies had been misleading the Fund and urging for immediate re-instatement of the blacklisting[5].

This year, 2014, marks the 10th aniversary of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion[6], which concluded that the construction of the Apartheid Wall made by the Israeli was illegal. In addition to this statement, the ICJ put all under the obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the illegal construction and occupation, due to its violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Therefore, the decision of the GPFG was made under the recommendations of the ICJ, and regarding the International and Humanitarian Law.

Norway has been trend setting in terms of divestment and its seems as if  the international campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is continuing its impact even under the guidance of the new right-wing government. Norway’s Pension Fund was the first major fund to start divestment from Israeli companies, when in September 2009 the Ministry of Finance’s excluded Elbit Systems, due to the company’s integral involvement in Israel’s construction of the illegal Wall on occupied territory. Later more than 10 other financial institutions announced exclusion of Elbit from their portfolio.

In the middle of this month, the Competitions Authorities in Norway have approved the sale of G4S Norway, the security company NOKAS. This move is seen by many as a response to a mounting civil society campaign against G4S because its involvement in  the maintenance of the illegal Apartheid Wall and the Israeli prison system. These positive results were the outcome of the great effort put into the lobby made my movements and civil society. It is a product of a thorough process, in which the Norwegian People’s Aid has had a strong role. “We are content that the companies are excluded from the investment portfolio again”, said the General Secretary in Norwegian People’s Aid, Liv Tørres.

Despite the positive decisions, the Norwegian Oil Fund still invests on several companies that are complicit in violations of human rights and international law, amongst them G4S. Thus, it is expected that the attention given to the Africa Israel and Danya Cebus’ case of complicity  in human rights violations and international law violations, may raise awareness and attention towards those other companies that help to maintain the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its Apartheid regime.