Due to their involvement in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, several groups have been excluded by the main Norwegian pension fund KLP. Among them are the French companies Altice Europe and Alstom and the American Motorola.
Norway’s main pension fund announced on July 5 that it had withdrawn from French companies Altice Europe and Alstom as well as 14 other groups, including the American Motorola, for their involvement in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. “Motorola and other companies risk being complicit in violations of international law in occupied Palestine,” said KLP, a fund that manages some 95 billion dollars in assets (about 80 billion euros) in a statement.
This disengagement, which concerns the purchase of stocks and bonds, follows the publication by the UN in February 2020 of a list of 112 companies operating in Israeli settlements, considered illegal by international law. . Israel had denounced the publication of this list, “shameful” according to the Hebrew state, on which appeared in particular the giants Airbnb, Expedia, Motorola and TripAdvisor.
A divestment amounting to $ 32 million
“To disengage from Motorola Solutions was a very simple decision given its role in the surveillance of the occupied territories”, argued KLP, criticizing the American group for having provided video surveillance and command software to control the borders with the Palestinian territories. KLP has also pulled out of the telecoms groups that offer their services in the West Bank, making the settlements “attractive residential areas”.
Are concerned Altice Europe of the Franco-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi – who withdrew the group from listing in January -, Bezeq, Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications. Five banks that have facilitated or financed the construction of housing and infrastructure in the occupied territories, as well as engineering and construction groups, including the French multinational Alstom, are also being banned. In total, the divestments of the Norwegian fund amount to $ 32 million.
“Companies have a responsibility to respect and protect human rights in all countries where they operate, regardless of the respect of these rights by the state itself,” said KLP analyst Kiran Aziz, quoted in the press release. . “Conflict can generate a particularly high risk of human rights violations. Companies operating in conflict zones must therefore exercise particular caution to avoid being involved in human rights violations and to protect vulnerable individuals, ”she added.
At the end of June, KLP had already announced its withdrawal from the Indian port and logistics group Adani Ports because of its links with the Burmese military.
For its part, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which leverages public oil revenues to finance future welfare state spending, has also excluded several companies in the past because of their role in Israeli settlements.
While Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are considered illegal by the United Nations, more than 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem where tension is often high with the Palestinian population.