More than 670 European financial institutions have ties with companies that are involved in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a report by a group of 25 Palestinian, regional and European organizations said Wednesday.
The report called on the companies “to end all investments and financial flows” into the settlements, arguing that they are illegal under international law.
The findings detail financial dealings worth $255 billion (218 billion euros) between 2018 and May 2021 directly or indirectly linked to the settlements — including loans or share and bond purchases — involving major European firms like BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank.
More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel from Jordan in the Six Day War of 1967. Many large Israeli companies are active in those communities.
The report is not an account of financial dealings directly occurring in Israeli settlements. For example, many of the European companies named have been implicated because they hold shares in non-Israeli firms, like machinery giant Caterpillar, whose products have been used in settlements.
The “Don’t Buy Into Occupation” coalition that authored the report claimed these European companies “have a responsibility to ensure that they are not involved in violations of international law and are not complicit in international crimes.”
Last year, the United Nations released a list of 112 companies with activities in Israeli settlements, including Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor. That list was produced by the UN human rights office in response to a Human Rights Council resolution demanding a “database” of firms that profited from business in settlements.
The UN’s Human Rights Council has long been accused by Israel, the United States and others of bias against Israel, passing more resolutions condemning the Jewish state than against all other countries combined.
Most of the international community considers settlement construction a violation of international law. The Trump administration in 2018 announced that it did not consider this to be the case, backing Israel, which rejects the position that the territories are occupied, saying they were captured from Jordan in a defensive war.