Aug 23, 2010

Government Fund Divests from Settlement Companies

Last year, Norwatch revealed that the Norwegian government pension fund had invested Africa Israel Investments and in its subsidiary Danya Cebus Ltd, which build settlement on occupied West Bank. Today, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance announced that the Pension Fund has divested from both firms, as well as a Malaysian forest company.

Africa Israel Investments Ltd. is the parent company of several subsidiaries with interests in property development, infrastructure and energy. The company holds a majority stake in Danya Cebus, a construction company involved in developing settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

The Fund's Council on Ethics emphasises that the construction of settlements in occupied areas is a violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the fourth Geneva Convention) and that the Pension Fund runs an unacceptable risk of contributing to serious violations of individual rights in situations of war and conflict by investing in these two companies.

“The Council on Ethics bases its recommendation on the fact that the international community is united in the view that the area east of the 1967 line is occupied territory and as such comes under the purview of the fourth Geneva Convention. Several United Nations Security Council resolutions and an International Court of Justice advisory opinion have concluded that the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is prohibited under this Convention. I have therefore accepted the recommendation of the Council on Ethics and am excluding Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from the fund’s investment portfolio,” says Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen in the press release.

The Malaysian firm Samling Global was thrown out because the fund’s Council on Ethics finds that the company has contributed to illegal logging and severe environmental damage. 31 December 2009, the investment of the Norwegian governmetn in Samling amounted to 8,1 million Norwegian kroners.

Danske Bank sold Africa Israel-shares earlier this year following the revelations by Norwatch.

The press release of the Norwegian Ministry of Finances, says nothing of the investment in Africa Israel Investment’s sister firm Africa Israel Properties. By 31 December 2009, the Norwegian government owned 2,2 million kroners in Africa Israel Properties.

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