PAX / December 5, 2022
Executive summary and recommendations
The “Don’t Buy into Occupation” (DBIO) coalition is a joint project between 24 Palestinian, regional and European organisations based in Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom (UK). The coalition aims to investigate and highlight the financial relationships between business enterprises involved in the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and European financial institutions (FIs).
Israeli settlements, their maintenance and expansion are illegal under international law and constitute acts which incur individual criminal liability as war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute). International humanitarian law (IHL), as per the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibits the Occupying Power from the individual or mass forcible transfer and deportations of protected persons, as well as from transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. In addition, the confiscation of land to build or expand settlements in occupied territory is prohibited, whereas the extensive destruction and appropriation of property for the benefit of settlements violates a number of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) provisions, as found in the Hague Regulations of 1907, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and customary IHL.
In addition, Israeli settlements have resulted in a myriad of human rights violations against the protected Palestinian population, while fragmenting the West Bank and isolating it from Jerusalem, and rendering sustainable and independent social and economic development for Palestinians in the OPT impossible to achieve. As evidenced by a rapidly growing body of legal experts, human rights organisations and UN experts, settlements are also a key component of Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, in which Israel administers the territory under two entirely separate legal systems and sets of institutions. This comprises a civil administration for Israeli-Jewish settlers residing and working in illegal settlements, on the one hand, and a military administration for Palestinians across the OPT, on the other.
Israeli, European, and international business enterprises, operating with or providing services to Israeli settlements, play a critical role in the functioning, sustainability and expansion of illegal settlements. Considering the illegality of settlements, the associated wide range of international humanitarian and human rights law violations, and the deliberate obstruction of the development of the Palestinian economy, private actors have a responsibility to ensure that they are not involved in violations of international law and are not contributing to, or complicit in, international crimes. Private actors, such as European financial institutions and business enterprises, should address adverse human rights impacts arising from their activities and business relationships with the Israeli settlement enterprise. However, despite its illegal nature, European financial institutions continue to invest billions into businesses linked to the Israeli settlement enterprise.
- New research by a cross-regional coalition of Palestinian and European organisations shows that, between January 2019 and August 2022, 725 European financial institutions, including banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and pension funds, had financial relationships with 50 businesses that are actively involved with Israeli settlements.
- During the analysed period, USD 171.4 billion was provided in the form of loans and underwritings. As of August 2022, European investors also held USD 115.5 billion in shares and bonds of these companies.
All financial data mentioned in the report refer to the total investments (shares, bonds, loans and/or underwritings) in companies that have activities in the illegal settlements in the OPT. These companies may also conduct other activities outside of the settlements. Therefore, the coalition does not claim that the entirety of this capital exclusively flows to the settlement enterprise. However, investments in a company generally support that company in its entirety, thereby connecting the investor to the company’s overall activities, consequently linking it to all associated adverse impacts of these activities. Regardless of the size of the investment or the proportion of the capital flowing directly to the settlement industry, financial institutions have a responsibility to use their leverage, including with business enterprises causing or contributing to violations and abuses, to prevent, mitigate, and address such harm.
- The 50 companies for which this research found financial relationships with European financial institutions are: Airbnb; Alstom; Altice International; Ashtrom Group; Bank Hapoalim; Bank Leumi; Bezeq Group; Booking Holdings; Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF); Carrefour; Caterpillar; Cellcom Israel; Cemex; CETCO Mineral Technology Group; Cisco Systems; CNH Industrial; Delek Group; Delta Galil Industries; eDreams ODIGEO; Elbit Systems; Electra Group; Energix Renewable Energies; Expedia Group; First International Bank of Israel (FIBI); Hamat Group; Heidelberg Materials; Hyundai Heavy Industries; IBM; Israel Discount Bank; MAN Group; Matrix IT; Mivne Group; Mizrahi Tefahot Bank; Motorola Solutions; Partner Communications; Paz Oil Company; PUMA; Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006; RE/MAX Holdings; Shapir Engineering and Industry; Shikun & Binui; Shufersal; Siemens; Solvay; Tripadvisor; TUI Group; Villar International; Vinci / Semi; Volvo Group; WSP Global.
- All 50 companies are involved in one or more of the “listed activities that raise particular human rights concerns”, which constitute the basis for inclusion in the UN database of business enterprises that are involved in Israeli settlements, which was published in February 2020. 5
The Top 10 creditors (loans and underwritings) alone provided USD 124.32 billion to one or more of these 50 companies: 1. BNP Paribas (France): USD 25.09 billion 2. HSBC (United Kingdom): USD 15.04 billion 3. Société Générale (France): USD 14.27 billion 4. Deutsche Bank (Germany): USD 14.07 billion 5. Barclays (United Kingdom): USD 12.29 billion 6. KfW (Germany): USD 11.15 billion 7. Santander (Spain): USD 9.46 billion 8. Crédit Agricole (France): USD 9.09 billion 9. UniCredit (Italy): USD 6.95 billion 10. ING Group (Netherlands): USD 6.91 billion
The Top 10 investors (shareholdings and bond holdings) alone invested USD 60.42 billion in one or more of these 50 companies: 1. Government Pension Fund Global (Norway): USD 13.90 billion 2. Crédit Agricole (France): USD 12.25 billion 3. Groupe BPCE (France): USD 6.68 billion 4. Deutsche Bank (Germany): USD 6.38 billion 5. Legal & General (United Kingdom): USD 5.52 billion 6. Allianz (Germany): USD 4.00 billion 7. DZ Bank (Germany): USD 3.02 billion 8. BNP Paribas (France): USD 3.01 billion 9. AB Industrivärden (Sweden): USD 2.89 billion 10. Nordea (Finland): USD 2.74 billion
FULL TEXT OF THE REPORT