European banks continue to have financial relationships with Israeli banks that are involved in the Israeli settlement industry. Two banks that are active in Belgium, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, hold shares in one or more such Israeli banks. By investing in these banks BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank support the development and expansion of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.
These are the key findings of a new report by 11.11.11, CNCD-11.11.11, Fairfin and Financité, "Financing Occup'Annexation", which was published on May 29, 2018.
Previous research by Israeli organization Who Profits showed that 7 Israeli banks are deeply involved in illegal settlements that are located on occupied Palestinian territory. Deutsche Bank owns or manages shares of five Israeli banks that are involved in the settlements, for a total amount of 21.96 million Euros. BNP Paribas owns or manages shares in one such Israeli bank, worth 6.08 million Euros.
By investing in Israeli banks that are involved in illegal settlements, financial institutions operating in Belgium are supporting the Israeli settlement enterprise. They are also violating their own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 'It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which a company could engage in activities in the settlements in a way that is consistent with the UN Guiding Principles and with international law', the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has indeed stated.
11.11.11, CNCD-11.11.11, Fairfin and Financité call on BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank to disinvest from the said Israeli banks and to develop a formal and explicit policy that excludes entities involved in Israeli settlements or any other occupied territories in the future.
European governments can also take action by, among others, prohibiting investments in the Israeli settlement industry and by supporting the full publication of the UN Database of business entities involved in the settlement industry.
As a key stakeholder of BNP Paribas, the Belgian government can also pressure the bank to terminate all financial relationships with Bank Hapoalim.