Nordic fund KLP excludes 16 companies over links with occupied West Bank By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Jewish settler walks past Israeli settlement construction sites around Givat Zeev and Ramat Givat Zeev in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, near Jerusalem June 30, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

By Gwladys Fouche and Simon Jessop

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway’s largest pension fund KLP said on Monday it would no longer invest in 16 companies including Alstom (PA:) and Motorola because of their links to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Along with a number of other countries, Norway considers the settlements a breach of international law. A 2020 United Nations report said it had found 112 companies that have operations linked to the region, home to around 650,000 Israelis.

The companies, which span telecoms, banking, energy and construction, all help facilitate Israel’s presence and therefore risk being complicit in breaches of international law, and against KLP’s ethical guidelines, it said in a statement.

“In KLP’s assessment, there is an unacceptable risk that the excluded companies are contributing to the abuse of human rights in situations of war and conflict through their links with the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank,” KLP said.

The move by KLP follows a decision by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund in May to exclude two companies linked to construction and real estate in the Palestinian territories.

KLP said it had sold shares in the companies worth 275 million Norwegian crowns ($31.81 million) and as of June had completed the process. In Motorola and Alstom, it had also sold its bond holdings.

Selling Motorola Solutions (NYSE:) was “a very straightforward decision” as its video security and software was used in border surveillance.

Telecoms companies including Bezeq and Cellcom Israel were removed as the services they provide help make the settlements more attractive residential areas, KLP said, while banks including Leumi helped finance the infrastructure.

In a similar vein, construction and engineering groups such as Alstom and local peers Ashtrom and Electra were responsible for building the infrastructure, while Paz Oil helped power them.

The other companies to be excluded were: Bank Hapoalim, Israel Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Delek Group, Energix Renewable Energies, First International Bank of Israel and Partner Communications.

Telecoms company Altice, which was listed until January 2021, was also excluded.

($1 = 8.6460 Norwegian crowns)

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