February 8, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Belgian banks indirectly invest billions in illegal Israeli settlements |  money

Belgian banks indirectly invest billions in illegal Israeli settlements | money

Many European banks, including six Belgian ones, are investing tens of billions in companies involved in illegal Israeli settlements. This is evidenced by a new report released on Monday by the international coalition Don’t Buy Into Occupation (DBIO), of which the Human Rights Organization 11.11.11 is a part. BNP Paribas Fortis turns out to be the worst student in the class.

Under international law, building and expanding settlements in occupied Palestinian territory constitute war crimes. Palestinian homes have to make way for Israeli homes, access to water is closed and residents are constantly monitored. Companies that contribute to this, for example by providing building materials, are guilty of various human rights violations. 2021 was the deadliest year yet for Palestinians in the region.

In the latest report, the DBIO reveals for the second year in a row how financial institutions are investing tens of billions in such companies. However, it is the duty of banks to monitor the sources of their money flow. “This is not just a theory,” says William Staes from 11.11.11. “This is an existing framework that was adopted ten years ago under the name ‘Human Rights Due Diligence.’ Banks have committed themselves to that, although it is not binding.”

denial

The largest European investor in such companies appears to be the Belgian-French bank BNP Paribas Fortis, with financial ties worth US$28.102 billion. Among other things, $6.27 billion flows to companies that supply spying equipment, $2.268 billion to companies that supply machines for demolishing Palestinian homes and $174 million to weapons suppliers to the Israeli army.

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KBC was down somewhat at $1.372 billion, ING invested $7.068 billion, AXA invested $967 million, Delen Private Bank $540 million and Bank Degroof Petercam $421 million. State Bank Belvius closes the list with $227 million USD. “Some banks deny they are involved, but we’ve already scheduled meetings with others to get started on this,” Stace adds.

Punishment

The Minister of Economy and Employment, Pierre-Yves Derman (PS) condemns the settlement policy and refers to a UN database that currently lists 112 companies involved. “I am currently investigating the legal possibilities of sanctioning companies based on this database.”

The list includes Belgian chemical giant Solvay. In its customer base, DBIO has found a manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles deployed in the Gaza Strip. There will also be photographic evidence of Solvay products in the settlements. Solvay strongly denies the latter. “An internal investigation following previous allegations found no evidence that Solvay products were sold in connection with such a project in the specified area.” Solvay says it strives to know all destinations and end uses for its products, “even though we’re at a very early stage in the value chain.” The chemical giant promises to enter into an active dialogue with 11.11.11 about this file.