Photo: Joel Carillet
By Erik Hagen
The Israeli firm Elibit Systems Ltd has been thrown out of the Norwegian government’s pension fund. This was announced by Norwegian Minister of Finance, Kristin Halvorsen, in a press conference today.
The Fund's Council of Ethics called Elbit's activities a “particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms", since they are delivering a central component to the Israeli construction of the separation wall, which extends over occupied land.
“We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law,” said Mrs Halvorsen.
The Norwegian Church Aid is happy about the divestment, and said the Ministry of Finances has made a good decision.
"We cannot accept investments in companies that are operating on what the UN defines as occupied land. Our church partners in the territory confirms that the separation barrier is erected on Palestinian land, and many farmers and ordinary people suffer because of this", said secretary-general of Norwegian Church Aid, Mr. Atle Sommerfeldt.
Norwegian Church Aid, which has many projects and a big network in the region, underlined that they are not against investments in companies operating in Israel proper. The organisation's policy is founded on recommendations from the World Council of Churches and the Church of Norway.Quiet firm
In its decision, the Council of Ethics has particularly drawn on the advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice in the Hague from 2004, which found the wall on occupied land to be in violation of international law.
The surveillance system that Elbit has delivered to Israeli authorities is a main component of the wall. 90 percent of the wall extends over occupied land. The system is specially designed for this purpose, and, in close collaboration with the buyer and has no other applications.
The company is evidently aware of where and how the system is being used. They have still refused to reply to requests from the Norwegian Bank Investment Management, which asked for an explanation about their participation in the surveillance.
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Jamal Jumah, coordinator of Ramallah-based Stop the Wall campaign, says to Norwatch this is very good news. Stop The Wall campaign has had meetings with the Norwegian Ministry of Financnes on the issue, and has coordinated Norwegian delegations to the occupied territories.
“We hope this will be an example for other European companies, governments and investors. As it is today, the foreign businesses are solidifying the occupation through their presence and support to the illegal settlements”, Jumah told.
“We hope that the Fund also will implement the same decision for other companies in their fund also involved on the occupied territories”, he related.
Read the press release and recommendation from the Fund's Council of Ethics here.