Luxembourg pension fund dumps 9 Israeli firms over settlements

by Ali Abunimah Rights, Electronic Intifada, 25th February 2014

Luxembourg’s state pension fund FDC has excluded nine major Israeli banks and firms and one US company because of their involvement in Israeli settlements and human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The move follows similar steps taken by other major financial institutions including the Dutch pensions giant PGGM and Norway’s state pension fund.

FDC is required to abide by a socially responsible investment strategy and has published a list of 61 “excluded” firms that do not comply with its standards.

These include all five of Israel’s major banks – Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank – on the grounds of “association to supporting construction of illegal settlements in occupied territories.”

Other firms involved in settlement construction on the exclusion list are AFI (Africa Israel Investments), Jerusalem Economy, Ltd., and Real Estate Management & Development.

The arms manufacturer Elbit Systems is excluded for its role in “providing security systems for illegal separation barrier on occupied territories.”

Luxembourg, a member of the European Union bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, has a population of half a million people. As of 2012, the FDC pension fund held assets of almost 13 billion euros ($18 billion).

US firm barred for Palestine role

The US firm Motorola Solutions is specifically barred from inclusion in the pension fund because of its “association to assisting in human rights violations in occupied [Palestinian] territories.”

According to Who Profits, Motorola Solutions has provided, through its Israeli subsidiary, equipment to Israeli settlements and occupation forces.

Dozens of other US and international firms like arms-makers Boeing and Lockheed Martin are on the list for various abuses around the world.

Turkey’s AKBank is listed for its role in hydroelectric dam projects “breaching World Bank environmental and social standards.”

Internet firm Yahoo! Inc. is excluded for “association to violation of the freedom of expression” in China.

US firm L-3 Communications is barred specifically for its role in “human rights abuses” in Iraq and Croatia, and for its role in marketing cluster munitions in the United States.

According to Who Profits, the firm is also involved in making equipment Israel uses to enforce the siege and closure of Gaza, however this is not specifically cited in the Luxembourg pension fund’s document.

Motorola appears, therefore, to be the only non-Israeli firm excluded specifically for a role in Israeli abuses.

The news of FDC’s barring of Israeli firms came as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, visiting occupied Jerusalem, announced her country’s opposition to “boycotts” designed to hold Israel accountable for its illegal colonization.