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.