Norwegian pension fund sells off investments linked to Israeli settlements, citing 'international law violations'

Norwegian pension fund sells off investments linked to Israeli settlements, citing 'international law violations'
Norway's largest pension fund's decision to divest from 16 companies follows a 2020 UN list of 112 companies with activities linked to Israel's illegal settlements.
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Illegal Israeli settlements have been build across the West Bank [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

Norway's largest pension fund announced on Monday it had divested assets in 16 companies for their links to Israel's illegal settlements in the West Bank, including telecom equipment giant Motorola.

"Motorola and other companies risk complicity in international law violations in occupied Palestine," KLP, which manages some 95 billion dollars (80 billion euros) worth of assets, said in a statement.

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

Israel's government has denounced the publication of the list - which included companies like Airbnb, Expedia, Motorola and Tripadvisor - as a "contemptible effort".

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"Divesting from Motorola Solutions was a very straightforward decision over its surveillance role in the occupied territories," KLP said, arguing the company provides software used in border surveillance.

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

These included Altice Europe, Bezeq, Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications.

Also included are five banks that facilitated or financed the construction of housing and infrastructure in occupied territories, as well as engineering and construction groups, including the French multinational Alstom.

Palestinians receive just 30 percent of East Jerusalem building permits
Click here to enlarge image (September 2019)

In late June, KLP announced its divestment of the Indian port and logistics group Adani Ports because of its links to the Burmese military junta.

Another Norwegian fund, the sovereign wealth fund, which is the largest in the world, has also excluded several companies in the past because of their connections to Israeli settlements.

It said in a statement that this was due to "the unacceptable risk that the companies are contributing to with systematic violations of individuals' rights in… wars or conflicts".

The occupation of Palestine is illegal under international law, though Israel denies this.

More than 600,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where they often use violence against the Palestinian population.