Dutch pensions group removes Israeli banks from blacklist
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Dutch pensions group removes Israeli banks from blacklist

Four years after announcing divestment over West Bank activity, seen as major BDS achievement, major finance firm reverses move

Jerusalemites take out money from an ATM (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Jerusalemites take out money from an ATM (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A major Dutch pensions group has reversed its 2014 blacklisting of Israeli banks.

PGGM had divested from all five leading Israeli banks over “ethical concerns” pertaining to their presence or actions in the West Bank, disputed territory where Palestinians are the majority but where hundreds of thousands of Israelis also live.

The decision to blacklist the banks was seen at the time as a major victory for advocates of attempts to boycott Israel.

But on Wednesday, the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad, or NIW, revealed that the Israeli banks have been taken off the blacklist and are therefore now presumed eligible for investment and other transactions by PGGM.

The report did not say whether PGGM has invested or otherwise dealt with the banks in question.

PGGM, the country’s second largest pension administrator, announced the divestment from five Israeli banks in January 2014, citing their activities in settlements built by Israel in the West Bank. The Netherlands and the European Union consider the settlements illegal.

The move, which was reportedly pushed by activists and organization supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, at the time drew criticism Dutch politicians and protests organized by Christians for Israel, a Dutch nongovernmental organization.

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