Stockholm (NordSIP) – On July 5th, Norwegian municipal pension fund KLP announced the exclusion of 16 new companies with connections to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The exclusions were worth NOK275 million in KLP investments and are motivated by the understanding that the settlements are a violation of international law. The decision follows the publication of a list of companies with activities related to the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Our assessment is that there is an unacceptable risk that the excluded companies will contribute to human rights violations in war and conflict situations through their connection to the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. This is anchored in the rules on occupation in the Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention,” says senior analyst at KLP Kapitalforvaltning, Kiran Aziz.
“This means that the companies have a responsibility to respect and protect human rights in all countries in which they operate, regardless of whether the state itself respects these rights. Conflict can involve a particularly high risk of human rights violations. Companies that operate in conflict areas should therefore exercise special care to avoid being involved in human rights violations and protect vulnerable individuals,” Aziz adds.
The exclusions include companies in banking, construction, infrastructure and telecommunications in the West Bank. According to Aziz, the banks were excluded because they contribute to the development, expansion or maintenance of the settlements by financing housing construction. Construction companies are excluded due to their deliveries of materials and infrastructure. Telecommunications companies are excluded because their services are considered a basic infrastructure for modern societies. Companies that provide energy, communication and monitoring services are also excluded for the important role they play in maintaining the settlements.
The full list of blacklisted companies includes Alstom SA, Shtrom Group LTD, Electra Ltd Bank Hapoalim BM, Bank Leumi Le-Israel, First Intl Bank Israel, Israel Discount Bank-A, Mizrahi Tefahot bank Ltd, Altice Europe NV, Bezeq The Israeli Telecom Co, Cellcom Israel Ltd, Partner Communications Co, Delek Group Ltd, Energix-Renewable Energies, Paz Oil Co Ltd, Motorola Solutions Inc.
KLP has contacted all the affected companies to establish a dialogue, and has followed up the dialogue due to a lack of response. – We always want to have a dialogue with the companies in order to be able to influence through our ownership. When our influence did not yield results, we chose to exclude the companies, says Aziz.
This latest announcement follows a similar decision by KLP to blacklist Adani Ports due to its connections with the Myanmar regime last week. The focus on companies tied to Myanmar and the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories began with a decision by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) to start targeting companies involved with these two controversies at the end of May.