The world”s largest sovereign wealth fund in Norway has excluded two Israeli groups allegedly involved in developing settlements in the West Bank.
Norway’s central bank confirmed that the companies had been removed from the fund, which has nearly €1.1 trillion in assets.
The fund’s ethics committee said that Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd and Mivne Real Estate KD Ltd posed an an “unacceptable risk”.
“The Executive Board has also decided to exclude the companies… due to the unacceptable risk that they contribute to systematic violations of individuals’ rights in situations or war or conflict,” a Norges Bank statement read.
“The Council on Ethics has recommended Norges Bank to exclude the companies based on the companies’ activities associated with Israeli settlements on the West Bank.”
While Shapir Engineering is involved in building housing, Mivne Real Estate holds a role in renting industrial premises in the Palestinian territory occupied by the Israeli army.
Some 475,000 Israelis live in settlements that are illegal under international law.
The decision means the fund has sold its potential holdings in the two Israeli groups and will not reinvest in them as long as the offending activities continue.
The exclusion of two Israeli companies comes amid intense airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, which have killed at least 227 Palestinians and 12 people in Israel.
A Japanese women’s clothing and accessories maker was also added to its blacklist on charges of human rights abuses in two factories in Myanmar, the Norweigian bank added.
“The Executive Board has decided to exclude the company Honeys Holdings Co Ltd due to unacceptable risk that the company contributes to systematic violations of human rights,” Norges Bank said.
The company has been accused of harassment of employees, the use of minors under the same conditions as adults, and restrictions on trade union freedom.
The Norwegian fund holds shares in some 8,800 companies worldwide and is governed by ethical rules that prohibit it from investing in companies guilty of serious human rights violations.