European banks invest billions in companies in occupied Palestinian territory, study shows

European banks are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in companies involved in the illegal Israeli settlement industry, according to international research published on Tuesday. 

The research was carried out by Don't Buy into Occupation, a coalition of 25 Palestinian and European organisations. It shows that between January 2020 and August 2023, European investors provided 164.2 billion US dollars worth of loans and underwriting to companies actively involved in Israeli settlements. 

As of August 2023, European investors also held 144.7 billion dollars in shares and bonds of these companies.

BNP Paribas is the largest European financier of companies operating in illegal settlements. In total, the French-Belgian bank's financial ties amount to 26 billion dollars. 

"The war should really be a wake-up call"

Its financing portfolio includes companies that supply components for spy equipment, settlement construction companies, suppliers of demolition machinery and arms suppliers to the Israeli army. 

The Belgian state-owned bank Belfius also provides 302 million dollars in financing to companies involved in demolishing Palestinian homes, building settlements, supplying surveillance equipment and illegally mining Palestinian natural resources. 

Call to divest

The report also points to other institutions operating in Belgium, including KBC, ING, AXA, Ackermans & Van Haren and Bank Degroof Petercam. Belgian organisations 11.11.11 and FairFin are calling on them to divest from the Israeli settlement industry. 

"Despite existing international rules, many companies and banks are still doing as they please. They make profits while settlers sow terror in the West Bank," said 11.11.11 spokesperson Willem Staes. 

"The real losers are the Palestinians. The war should really be a wake-up call. We call on Finance minister Van Peteghem to take urgent action, especially with regard to BNP Paribas and arms supplier Elbit," he said.

BNP Paribas said in a response that "its code of conduct and sector policies are strictly applied in this and all situations". It denies the allegations against the bank.



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