Belgium - How financial institutions in Belgium are involved in the Israeli settlement industry.
European banks continue to maintain financial ties with Israeli banks involved in the Israeli settlement industry. This also applies to two banks operating in Belgium, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, which both have shares in one or more Israeli banks. By investing in these Israeli partners, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank support the development of Israeli settlements, which are nevertheless illegal under international law.
The most recent findings on this subject can be found in the Financing OccupAnnexation report published on 29 May of 11.11.11, CNCD-11.11.11, FairFin and Financité.
Israeli settlements are the cornerstone of the occupation of Palestinian territories for 51 years now and are war crimes under international law. Israeli banks fund construction projects, provide loans to local and regional settlement councils, and are thus a crucial actor in the development and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.
According to the Israeli organization Who Profits, a total of 7 Israeli banks are active in settlements on Palestinian territory. Deutsche Bank owns or manages 21.96 million euro shares in 5 Israeli banks. BNP Paribas also has ties with an Israeli bank for an amount of 4.8 million euros. The investigation also shows that until recently, KBC, ING and Dexia Bank were also involved in the occupied territories, but wisely decided to step out of this. No link was found in the current investigation for Triodos Bank, Van Lanschot, vdk bank, Argenta and Belfius.
By investing in Israeli banks, the banks operating in Belgium support illegal Israeli settlements and go against their own corporate social responsibility policies and the UN Principles of Responsible Business. "It seems to me difficult to come up with a scenario whereby a company develops activities in settlements that would be in accordance with the UN Guidelines and with international law," said the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.
11.11.11, CNCD-11.11.11, FairFin and Financité therefore demand that BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank break their relations with the aforementioned Israeli banks and that all banks active in Belgium set up a clear policy that current and future investments in the Israeli settlement industry impossible.
The Belgian government can also take action, for example by prohibiting companies from investing in the settlement economy of Israel and by supporting the publication of a UN database on the companies involved in the occupation economy.
And as an important shareholder of BNP Paribas, the Belgian government must put pressure on the bank to stop all relations with Israeli banks.