How Your Fund is Complicit
Israel and Palestine: The Basic Facts
Since its foundation in 1948 Israel has established a body of laws, policies, and practices that has systematically oppressed Palestinians. This political and legal system impacts Palestinians in different ways.
In the West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians face a military occupation, which severely restricts their fundamental human rights. They face forced dispossession, unjust military law and restrictions on their freedom of movement.
In Gaza, 1.9 million Palestinians live under a brutal siege, deemed illegal and inhumane by the United Nations, and have been subjected to numerous indiscriminate military assaults.
1.7 million Palestinians live as second class citizens within the state of Israel. They are subject to over 65 laws that discriminate against them because they are Palestinian.
The largest group of Palestinians, over 7 million, live as refugees, or in exile from Israel’s forced displacement. They are unable to return to the homes which they, or their family, were expelled.
Israel is only able to maintain its oppression of the Palestinian people because of products, equipment and technology it receives from a range of complicit companies. As Palestine Solidarity Campaign research has uncovered, many local authority pension funds invest in these companies.
This includes companies listed on the United Nations Human Rights Office’s list of enterprises involved in select activities in illegal Israeli settlements, based on occupied Palestinian land.
The report is not exhaustive, as acknowledged by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report it only includes business enterprises engaged in select activities during a limited period of time. However, it provides a good starting point for campaigning, as the United Nations OHCHR has already undertaken rigorous engagement with the included companies regarding their involvement in Israel’s settlements.
Our campaign targets companies based on complicity. Companies are deemed complicit through activity that aids Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
Some do business with or in Israel’s settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The illegality of Israel’s settlements has been repeatedly stated by the international community, recently in UN Security Council Resolution 2334.
As affirmed by Amnesty International, and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights in applying the UN Guiding Principles to the occupied territory, conducting business on occupied land unavoidably contributes to sustaining an illegal situation, where Palestinians are denied their land and basic human rights.
Other companies provide the infrastructure for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. For example, building Israel’s separation barrier, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, or constructing and maintaining Israeli checkpoints in the occupied territory.
Companies are also complicit by supplying the Israeli military with weapons and other equipment used to oppress the Palestinian people. The Israeli military has been widely condemned for its brutal and indiscriminate targeting of Palestinian civilians, including by the United Nations.
Investment in these companies is not only unethical, it is financially risky. As the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Overseas Business Risk Guidance states there are “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements.” This is “stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory.” There is therefore clear financial and reputational risks stemming from continued investment in companies aiding Israel’s human rights abuses.
Internationally, several pension funds have recognised this, and taken steps to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law.
To give a few examples, in 2012 Norway’s finance ministry excluded Shikun & Binui from its pension fund over its role in the construction of Israeli settlements. In 2018 Falkirk Pension Fund divested from Bank Hapoalim after challenging the bank regarding its activities in illegal settlements. In 2019 the United Nations staff pension fund confirmed it had divested from two investment funds holding shares in companies operating in illegal settlements, and in 2020 the largest Dutch pension fund ABP announced it had stopped investing in two Israeli banks funding Israel’s illegal settlements.
Led by scheme members and their representative trade unions, LGPS Divest is campaigning for an end to LGPS funds complicity in Israel’s human rights abuses. We are demanding administering authorities ensure adequate screening and due diligence procedures are in place to guarantee that pension holders deferred wages are not being not used to support Israel’s violations of international law.
Get Involved! Acting together, we can end pension funds’ complicity!