By Erik Hagen
Photo: Settlement near Bethlehem. PENGON/Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.
This English translation was published 15 March 2009
The government of Israel may fall because of its decision to expand illegal settlements in occupied areas in East Jerusalem. The decision has become an extremely hot issue internally among the government parties and was denounced by Israel’s closest ally, the USA, last week.
But while there has been an increase in the controversies about Israel’s settlement policy, which is in conflict with international law, the Government Pension Fund – Global’s investments increase in the same companies that are behind the expansion. This is true of both Israeli companies and big international corporations. The new total amount is as much as 18.1 billion kroner.
Last year Norwatch discussed a report compiled by the Palestine-based organisation Who Profits, which documented that the Pension Fund had invested in 32 companies on occupied land. Of these, 11 were foreign and 21 Israeli. The companies are linked to, among other things, construction of the separating wall, construction of housing, employment of settlers, construction and operation of Israeli infrastructure, surveillance of Palestinians and tearing down of Palestinian homes.
The recently presented figures from the Pension Fund show that record-breaking amounts of Norwegian Pension money are now invested in companies in the occupied areas.
The Pension Fund has now invested in 20 Israeli companies in the occupied areas. The investments in these companies increased from 771 million to 1.7 billion Norwegian kroner in the course of 2009.
Among the most spectacular investments is a sevenfold increase in the investments in Israeli Bezeq Telecommunications and Partner Communications, which are constructing telecom infrastructure for illegal settlements on the West Bank. The investments in these two companies have increased sevenfold and fivefold, respectively, from a total of 142 to 957 million kroner.
The largest investments are nevertheless still made in foreign corporations that own, finance or in other ways participate in projects on occupied land. After one of these firms, the Swedish-owned lock producer Assa Abloy, last year pulled out of the occupied areas, the Pension Fund retains investments in 10 foreign concerns which are reported in the Who Profits report.
The Pension Fund’s investments in the 10 foreign companies increased from 11.5 to 16.4 billion kroner in the course of 2009.
When the Israeli and foreign sums are added together, the total Pension Fund investments in companies in the occupied areas increased from 12.7 to 18.1 billion kroner last year.
This is the growth:
|Africa Israel Investments (Israel)||Shares||5 514 863||7 182 954|
|Africa Israel Properties (Israel)||Shares||1 150 704||2 273 863|
|Alstom SA (France)||Shares||1 394 180 960||1 609 550 720|
|Bank Hapoalim BM (Israel)||Shares||75 812 217||168 987 638|
|Bank Leumi (Israel)||Shares||44 514 990||104 318 678|
|Bezeq Israeli Telecomm.(Israel)||Shares||100 277 065||759 228 778|
|Caterpillar Inc (USA)||Shares||1 048 410 034||1 134 906 358|
|Bonds||52 578 944||47 946 689|
|Cellcom Israel (Israel)||Shares||10 101 682||9 469 857|
|Cemex (Mexico)||Shares||260 421 052||321 641 491|
|Clal Industries (Israel)||Shares||2 418 682||10 919 460|
|CRH (Ireland)||Shares||1 230 763 945||1 831 732 605|
|Delek Group (Israel)||Shares||2 861 788||23 851 401|
|Dexia (Belgium)||Shares||291 337 210||322 311 044|
|Emblaze (Israel)||Shares||7 770 723||7 725 244|
|Frutarom Industries (Israel)||Shares||8 252 446||9 053 352|
|G4S (UK)||Shares||359 558 937||600 621 397|
|General Mills (US)||Shares||480 921 252||705 546 604|
|Bonds||188 105 352|
|Gilat Satellite Networks (Israel)||Shares||1 271 074||5 299 244|
|HeidelbergCement (Germany)||Shares||62 499 425||2 366 793 467|
|Shikun & Binui Ltd (Israel)||Shares||3 600 474||10 135 937
|Israel Discount Bank (Israel)||Shares||12 160 255||26 657 472|
|Israel Electric Corp (Israel)||Bonds||359 628 498||292 194 568|
|Jerusalem Economy (Israel)||Shares||1 032 830||2 841 790|
|Koor Industries (Israel)||Shares||8 468 666||19 606 108|
|Makhteshim-Agan Ind. (Israel)||Shares||41 305 892||3 859 531|
|Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (Israel)||Shares||22 497 163||40 891 249|
|Partner Communications (Israel)||Shares||42 045 800||197 914 525|
|Paz Oil (Israel)||Shares||11 448 517||17 426 562|
|Shufersal (Israel)||Shares||9 559 582||12 012 487|
|Veolia Environnement (France)||Shares||1 424 825 739||732 691 242|
|Bonds||899 476 648||1 056 496 587|
|Unilever NV (Netherlands)||Shares||3 695 890 944||5 483 807 574|
|Bonds||177 148 510||189 793 102|
|Total||12 337 812 863||18 135 689 578|
On the calculation
- Since the Who Profits report was published last year, the Pension Fund has expelled the Israeli company Elbit, which participates in the surveillance along the controversial wall that is in conflict with international law. Assa Abloy, which was represented in the Who Profits report in 2009, is no longer on the West Bank. Elbit and Assa Abloy have therefore been removed from the calculation base.
- In the comparison it can be seen that the Pension Fund in the course of last year discontinued its investments in the Israeli company Housing & Construction Holdings, which through its subsidiaries runs construction projects in many settlements on the West Bank. The Ministry of Finance has not stated that they have been sold because of a breach in the ethical guidelines. It must therefore be assumed that they have been sold for financial reasons.
- The company referred to as Africa Israel in the Who Profits report is actually two companies: Africa-Israel Investments and Africa-Israel Properties.
- Clal Group, which is referred to in the report, owns Clal Industries, which supplies cement for the construction of the wall. The figures from Norwatch calculate the value of the latter.
- It is completely possible that even more Pension Fund companies are involved in the occupied areas. This article has taken as its basis only the report from Who Profits in 2009.
- The firm Shikun & Binui Ltd (mentioned in the Norwegian Bank's annual report for 2009) is the same firm as Housing & Construction Holdings (mentioned in the annual report for 2008)
Below follows an alphabetic survey of the Pension Fund companies brought up in the report last year and in which the Pension Fund still has invested money. The information is collected from the Who Profits report.
Africa Israel (Israel) – Involved in construction and sale of housing projects, infrastructure and flats in a series of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, through its subsidiary Danya Cebus.
Alstom (France) – Through its Israeli subsidiary Citadis Israel, Alstom is constructing a railroad project that will link the Israeli settlements to Jerusalem.
Bank Hapoalim (Israel) – Gives loans for housing projects on the West Bank and has a series of branches on occupied land.
Bank Leumi (Israel) – Gives loans for housing projects on the West Bank and has a series of branches on occupied land.
Bezeq Israeli Telecommunications (Israel) – Constructing telecom infrastructure on the West Bank and provides service to Israeli settlements there.
Caterpillar (USA) – Its specially made militarised D9 bulldozers are used by the Israeli armed forces on the Palestinian population. The bulldozers have been used to tear down Palestinian housing on occupied land and to build the separation wall and settlements on Palestinian land.
Cellcom Israel (Israel) – Has erected close to a hundred antennas and telecom infrastructure on the West Bank and on the Golan Heights for use by Israeli settlers.
Cemex (Mexico) – Through Readymix Industries (Israel) it owns three factories on the West Bank and runs a quarry for the production of cement.
Clal Group (Israel) – A big shareholder in Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises, which provides cement for construction of the separation wall, Israeli settlements and infrastructure on the West Bank. Another subsidiary is Golf&Co., a shopping centre with a branch in the Pisgat Ze’ev settlement on the occupied West Bank.
CRH (Ireland) – Owns 25% of Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises, which produces cement for construction of the separation wall, checkpoints, settlements and Israeli infrastructure on occupied land.
Delek Group (Israel) – Through its subsidiary Delek Israel Fuel it has more than a dozen petrol stations and shops in settlements on the West Bank.
Dexia (Belgium) – Through its subsidiary Dexia Israel it provides loans to Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
Emblaze (Israel) – Through its subsidiary Formula Systems it owns Matrix, a software company in a settlement on the West Bank.
Frutarom (Israel) – Owns a factory for the agricultural industry on the West Bank.
G4S (UK) – Security company that through its Israeli subsidiary Hashmira produces scanning equipment for checkpoints on the West Bank and in Gaza.
General Mills (USA) – One of its factories, named Shalgal, is located in a settlement on the occupied West Bank.
Gilat Satellite Networks (Israel) – Provides infrastructure for satellite surveillance for the Israeli armed forces.
HeidelbergCement (Germany) – Through Hanson Israel it owns three factories in settlements on the West Bank and runs a quarry on the occupied West Bank which is used for the Israeli construction industry.
Shikun & Binui/Housing & Construction Holdings (Israel) – Through its subsidiary Solel Boneh and Shikun Ovdim it operates construction projects in many settlements on the West Bank. The company is also principal owner (80% of the shares) in Otzma Pereg, an air-conditioning factory located on the West Bank. Shikun & Binui Ltd is the Hebrew name for Housing & Construction.
Israel Discount Bank (Israel) – Gives loans for housing projects on the West Bank and has a series of branches on occupied land.
Israel Electric Corp (Israel) – Has a part monopoly on the electric supply to Gaza and has been used by the Israeli government to reduce the electric supply for the population there. The company also builds and maintains the infrastructure on the West Bank and offers electricity to Israeli settlements there.
Jerusalem Economy (Israel) – Develops and rents out property for Israeli industry on occupied land, both directly and through its subsidiary Industrial Buildings Corporation.
Koor Industries (Israel) – Through its subsidiary Makhteshim-Agan Industries partially owns (25% of the shares) Fibertech, a pipe producer in a settlement on the West Bank.
Makhteshim-Agan Industries (Israel) – Partially owns (25%) Fibertech, a glassfibre pipe plant located in an Israeli settlement on the occupied West Bank.
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (Israel) – Provides loans for housing projects on the West Bank and has a series of branches on occupied land.
Partner Communications (Israel) – Has built more than 80 antennas and telecom infrastructure on occupied land on the West Bank and Golan Heights for Israeli settlers.
Paz Oil (Israel) – Has monopoly on petrol supply for Palestinian authorities on the West Bank. It owns and runs petrol stations in and gas supply to settlements on the West Bank.
Shufersal (Israel) – The company and its subsidiaries own branches in several settlements on the West Bank. They also sell vegetables and rice under a separate brand name, packed in a factory in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank.
Veolia Environment (France) – Runs a bus line between Israeli settlements on Israeli roads on the West Bank. Has also been hired to run the Jerusalem light rail project, which is to link the settlements to Jerusalem. Through its subsidiary Veolia Environmental Services (Israel) it owns and runs the Tovlan dump in the occupied Jordan Valley.
Unilever (Netherlands) – Controls (51%) the company Beigel and Beigel, which has a food factory in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank.