Ireland’s sovereign investment fund to divest from six Israeli firms

Irish government will pull investments from Israel’s largest banks plus a supermarket chain active in East Jerusalem and West Bank

For illustration: An Ireland supporter holds a Palestinian flag on the stands during the Euro 2024 group B qualifying soccer match between Gibraltar and Ireland at the Argarve Stadium, outside Faro, Portugal, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP/Joao Matos)
For illustration: An Ireland supporter holds a Palestinian flag on the stands during the Euro 2024 group B qualifying soccer match between Gibraltar and Ireland at the Argarve Stadium, outside Faro, Portugal, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP/Joao Matos)

Ireland’s 15 billion euro sovereign investment fund will divest from six Israeli companies, including the country’s largest banks, over their activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Irish Finance Minister Michael McGrath said on Friday.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which invests at home to support economic growth but also holds a portfolio of liquid international assets, has come under pressure from the main opposition party, Sinn Fein, to divest the assets.

It will sell shareholdings totaling 2.95 million euros ($3.19 million) in Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Israel Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd., First International Bank and Rami Levi, one of Israel’s leading supermarket chains.

“I have been advised by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that it has decided to divest from certain ISIF global portfolio investments in companies that have certain activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” McGrath said in a statement, describing the move as “correct.”

The decision will be implemented as soon as possible over the coming weeks, he added.

Ireland has been among the most critical in Europe of Israel’s conduct in its military campaign in Gaza, which was launched after thousands of Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern communities in October 7, slaughtering some 1,200 people. They also kidnapped some 253 people into Gaza, where more than half are believed to remain.

Amid the IDF’s ground offensive, launched in late October, 260 soldiers have been killed and 1,552 wounded.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 33,000 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas terrorists Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 gunmen inside Israel on October 7.

Long a champion of Palestinian rights, Ireland last month joined Spain, Malta and Slovenia in taking the first steps toward recognizing Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, Norway’s $1.6 trillion fund, has over the years divested from nine Israeli companies, citing their involvement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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