Human Rights Watch targets Israeli banks… NZ Super fund

Press Release – Palestine Solidarity Network

Human Rights Watch targets Israeli banks – invested in by NZ Super Fund

The Palestine Solidarity Network has renewed calls for the NZ Super Fund to divest its shareholding in Israeli banks which invest in the illegal construction of Jewish only settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Human Rights Watch has just listed a number of Israeli banks which fund construction of these settlements, which Human Rights Watch says is complicit in the occupation of Palestinian land and in breach of international law.

The New Zealand Super Fund invests in four of the banks identified by Human Rights Watch; Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Mizrahi Tefahot and the First International Bank of Israel.

Human Rights Watch says Bank Hapoalim funds construction at the settlements of Efrat and Beitar Illit. The Super Fund’s investment in Bank Hopoalim is worth $2.9 million.

Bank Leumi is banking construction at Alfei Menashi. The Fund investment in Bank Leumi is $2.6 million.

The greatest extent of revealed bank loans for Israeli settlements is with Mizrahi Tefahot, with loans to multiple settlements in all of Ariel, Efrat, Elkana, Ma’aleh Adumin.

Mizrahi Tefahot also funds building work at Kiryat Arba. This settlement is one of the oldest and most notorious of Israeli settlements. One settler from Kiryat Arba was Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 Palestinians in the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994.

The Super Fund lists its most recent shareholding in Mizrahi Tefahot at $934,111.

Spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Network in Auckland, Janfrie Wakim, says the Super Fund divested its stake in three Israeli companies on 2012 because they were building Israeli settlements.

“Then the Super Fund appears to have got cold feet and claimed that while building illegal Israeli settlements was wrong, paying for their construction was not objectionable.”

Wakim says if the Super Fund doesn’t act on the Human Rights Watch information, then the New Zealand government must instruct the Super Fund.

“The government has powers to give direction to the Super Fund through the Finance Minister. We’ve just had the massacre of more than 100 Palestinians by Israeli snipers in Gaza and the Israeli Defence Minister has announced a massive speed up of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

“New Zealand needs send a clear message to Israel that even if the United States is encouraging Israel to act outside the law, then other countries are not prepared to accept it.”

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