Press release, Various undersigned, 14 May 2009
In an unprecedented way, a wide array of Israeli civil society and grassroots organizations has sent a letter to the Norwegian Pension Fund, addressed to its Council on Ethics, urging it to support their efforts for a just peace and equality in Israel/Palestine by divesting from all companies involved in the Israeli occupation.
These Israeli organizations include feminist organizations and community centers, peace and human rights organizations, organizations concerned with civil rights and equality within the state of Israel and organizations dedicated to ending the occupation of Palestinian territories, to the benefit of all people living in Israel/Palestine.
This appeal follows and expands a previous call on the Norwegian fund, by two Palestinian West Bank villages and 11 other organizations from around the world to divest from Africa-Israel, an Israeli corporation involved in building Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
But Africa-Israel is not the only settlement-builder on the fund’s investment portfolio. As shown by a recent report by Who Profits from the Occupation research, at least 30 other companies have a continuous involvement in the occupation: some build illegal Israeli settlements or provide vital services to them; some provide specifically designed equipment for the surveillance and repression of Palestinian population through restrictions of movement and collective punishments; some exploit Palestinian labor and natural resources.
The examples listed also include international corporations such as the Belgian Bank Dexia, which finances Israeli illegal settlements’ municipalities by long term loans, or the Mexican Cemex and the German HeidelbergCement, both giant construction materials suppliers that own and operate Israeli plants and quarries on occupied land, and thus both contribute to the Israeli illegal colonization of Palestinian lands, and exploit the Palestinian nonrenewable natural resources, for the needs of the Israeli economy and in violation of international law.
The letter is framed as a general appeal to the Norwegian people, mentioning the Norwegians’ “long-standing commitment to peace, justice and democracy” in Israel/Palestine, and presenting the current investment in corporations that “support and maintain the Israeli occupation” as contradicting the Norwegian governments’ own policies, as well as the pension fund’s own ethical guidelines, which preclude investments in companies involved in gross violations of human rights or humanitarian principles. Copies have been sent to Norwegian civil society organizations, ministers and parliamentarians.