Norway’s sovereign wealth fund considers divesting from Israel

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  December 23, 2022

The $1.3 trillion fund is said to be reviewing investments over concerns about Israeli companies’ ties to illegal West Bank Jewish settlements.

Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund is reviewing its investments in Israel and may halt them entirely over concerns about Israeli companies’ work in illegal West Bank settlements, multiple Hebrew language media outlets reported on Thursday night.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is mulling cutting ties with Israeli companies as a result of a 2020 decision by the United Nations to issue a blacklist of more than 100 global companies that conduct business in illegal settlements.

The fund has explored halting investments in Israel for months, but the idea gained momentum recently with the formation of Israel’s new far-right government, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 12 news. 

“Our efforts to dissuade the fund from this action will be difficult to bring to fruition in the face of the stated policies of the [new] government regarding the territories,” an Israeli official told the network on condition of anonymity.

Israel lobbied heavily against the release of the UN blacklist, which included 18 international companies, such as Airbnb;; Expedia; JCB; Opodo; TripAdvisor; and Motorola Solutions. 

The sovereign wealth fund, established to ensure that Norway’s petroleum revenues are enjoyed by future generations, has been a big investor in Israel.

In 2020, it poured $1.3 bn into 81 Israeli companies – about a third of its total Middle East investments.

In December the fund said it would exclude from its portfolio one Israeli software and data firm that it said held “unacceptable risk” of human rights violations.

It also has a history of divesting from businesses linked to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank. In 2020 the fund reportedly sold its holdings in two Israeli construction companies, Mivne Real Estate and Shafir Engineering, over settlement construction.