Norway fund expels Israel firm for barrier work

OSLO, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Norway’s $400 billion-plus wealth fund has excluded Israeli company Elbit Systems (ESLT.TA) for supplying surveillance equipment for the separation barrier in the West Bank, the government said on Thursday.

“We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law,” Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen said in a statement.

“The freedom of movement of the people living in the occupied territory has been unacceptably restricted,” she said.

Halvorsen said the International Court of Justice has said the barrier construction breaches the Fourth Geneva Convention and that “Norwegian authorities act in accordance with this.”

Norway says that the surveillance system supplied by Elbit to the Israeli authorities “is one of the main components in the separation barrier and its associated control regime.”

“The surveillance system has been specially designed in close collaboration with the buyer and has no other applications. Furthermore Elbit is clearly aware of exactly where and how the system is intended to be used,” she said.

The central bank-managed fund follows ethical guidelines issued by the finance ministry, and in the past it has excluded companies that produce nuclear arms or cluster munitions, damage the environment or abuse human rights or worker rights.

(Reporting by Aasa Christine Stoltz and Wojciech Moskwa)

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