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Norwegian fund divests from 16 firms over links to Israeli settlements

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture shows the Israeli settlement of Givat Ze'ev near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. (Photo by AFP)

Norway’s largest pension fund, the KLP, has announced that it will no longer invest in 16 companies over their links to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including telecom equipment giant, Motorola.

The KLP said in a statement on Monday that the companies spanning telecoms, banking, energy and construction sectors worked against the fund’s ethical guidelines, helped facilitate Israel's illegal presence in the occupied Palestinian territories and therefore risk being complicit in breaches of international law.

“In KLP’s assessment, there is an unacceptable risk that the excluded companies are contributing to the abuse of human rights in situations of war and conflict through their links with the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank,” the Norwegian pension fund said in the statement.

The KLP, which manages some $95 billion worth of assets, said it had sold shares in the companies amounting to $31.81 million and as of June had completed the process, among them was Motorola.

"Divesting from Motorola Solutions was a very straightforward decision over its surveillance role in the occupied territories," the KLP said. "Motorola and other companies risk complicity in international law violations in occupied Palestine.”

The KLP stressed that it had contacted the affected companies to attempt to “establish a dialogue” before deciding to disinvest, but the companies declined to respond.

“We always want to have a dialogue with the companies, to influence them through our ownership,” the fund said in the statement, adding that KLP chose to exclude the companies when that influence “did not yield results.”

KLP also divested several telecom operators offering services within the occupied West Bank as they contributed to making “the settlements attractive residential areas."

Among the affected institutions are also five banks that 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.

The divestment follows the February 2020 UN publication of a list of 112 companies with activities linked to Israeli colonial settlements, considered illegal under international law.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

The KLP's action is in line with the international anti-Israel movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), which was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Thousands of volunteers, trade unions, NGOs, academic and business societies, as well as cultural figures worldwide have joined the boycott campaign to help promote the Palestinian cause.


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