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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘PGGM’

Dutch Christians Protest Pension Fund’s Boycott of Israel

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Approximately 350 Dutch Christian activists demonstrated early Monday in front of the headquarters of PGGM, manager of the largest pension fund in Holland, to protest its recent decision to pull out its investments in five Israeli banks, the European Jewish Press reported (EJP).

PGGM said it got rid of shares in Bank HaPoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank  because they are involved in financing in Judea and Samaria, or what it called “occupied Palestinian territories.’’

.The protesters, members of the Christian Foundation for Israel, held Israeli flags and banners reading ’’Stop the Boycott of Israel’’ while distributing pamphlets to the PGGM employees. They were accompanied by Holland’s Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, who denounced the fact that Israel is always singled out while PGGM ‘’should stop invest in many countries.’’

’We want PGGM to reconsider its decision,’’ Roger van Oordt, director of the Christian Foundation for Israel. ‘’

The pension group manages more than ($208 billion) in funds and has more than $150 million worth of investments in Israel.

PGGM’s move is the third high-profile divestment in Holland in recent months, according to EJP. In December, state-owned water company Vitens broke off its alliance with Israeli water group Mekorot, and earlier civil engineering group HaskoningDHV pulled out of a project to develop a waste water treatment plant in Jerusalem after the Dutch foreign ministry said it could conflict with international law.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the divestment decision was a “sanctimonious move intended to pander to a certain nefarious trend in public opinion.”

Last week, the Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador in Israel, Caspar Veldkamp, for a clarification on the PGGM decision to divest from Israel. ‘’This decision is unacceptable and relies on false pretense,’’ the Ministry’s Deputy Director General of the MFA for European Affairs, Raphael Schutz, told the Dutch Ambassador.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans declared last week that his country opposes a boycott of Israel.

Israel Summons Dutch Ambassador over Divestments in his Country

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

For the second time in less than a month, Israel demanded clarifications from the Netherlands on Dutch firms’ divestment from Israel.

On Friday, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Dutch ambassador to Israel, Caspar Veldkamp, to provide clarifications on the decision of PGGM, a large pensions administrator, to divest from five Israeli banks because of their activities in West Bank settlements.

During the meeting between Veldkamp and Raphael Schutz, the ministry’s deputy director general on European affairs, Schutz told the ambassador that PGGM’s decision is “unacceptable and relies on false pretense,” according to a statement by the ministry.

Israel expected the Netherlands “in the spirit of friendship between our countries, to take an unequivocal stance against such steps, which only wreak damage to the relations,” the statement read.

On Dec. 12, the ministry summoned Kamp to a meeting after a decision by the Dutch water company Vitens to pull the plug on joint projects with Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, because of its operations in what the Netherlands considers occupied territory.

On Thursday, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said that while the Netherlands is opposed to a boycott of Israel, its policy is to discourage Dutch businesses from conducting business with Israeli settlements.

Kees van der Staaij, a pro-Israel lawmaker, said he would seek clarifications from the minister on what van der Staaij termed “a boycott atmosphere.”

On its website, the Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, one of the country’s main pro-Israel groups, said that the “unclear policy of discouragement is threatening to turn into a boycott of Israel.”

Dutch Funds Divest from Israeli Banks but not from Occupied Tibet

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

A Dutch pension administrator has divested from five Israeli banks over their activity in the Judea and Samaria as a matter of “responsible investment policy” but it retains its investments in Chinese banks operating in Tibet on land widely seen internationally as land occupied by China.

The pension investment company PGGM announced its decision to divest from Bank HaPoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank on Tuesday on its website.

The text cited the banks’ “involvement in financing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This was a concern, as the settlements in the Palestinian territories are considered illegal under international humanitarian law.”

PGGM had a marginal investment of several dozen millions of dollars in Israeli banks out of billions it invests all over the world, according to the NRC Handelsblad daily. The paper reported PGGM was Holland’s second-largest pension administrator.

In its statement, the company also cited its “responsible investment policy,” which excludes investing in bodies involved in “violations of fundamental human rights and labor rights.”

But according to a document released by the company in 2013, PGGM investments abroad include two Chinese banks – Bank of China and China Construction Bank — with offices and activities in Tibet, which is widely seen internationally as land occupied by China. PGGM also invests in China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec, which is exploring for oil in Tibet.

PGGM’s international investments also include the Malaysian palm oil producer Sime Darby, which last year paid a million dollars in reparations to villagers in Liberia amid accusations that the firm had violated their human rights and confiscated their property.

PGGM spokesperson Maurice Wilbrink declined to answer JTA’s questions on the scope of his company’s investments in Chinese firms active in Tibet, explaining the figures were confidential.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/dutch-funds-divest-from-israeli-banks-but-not-from-occupied-tibet/2014/01/08/

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