PageId: 25074

SVG: 0

PNG: 26468

Belgian banks earn money due to occupation of Palestinian territories

Thursday, May 20, 2021

BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and KBC invested as much as 6.8 billion euros in Alstom, Motorola and Booking.com since the previous war in Gaza in 2014. These three companies are actively involved in the occupation of the Palestinian territories, according to the United Nations. The occupation is profitable for them, and also for the banks that finance them.

Who is capitalizing on Israeli colonization? FairFin, which leads Fair Finance Belgium, investigated what role Belgian banks play in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

The colonization of Palestinian territories is a war crime under international law. FairFin specifically examined the investments of banks in Belgium in three of the 112 companies that the UN says do business in the occupied Palestinian Territories through Israeli settlers. We highlight Alstom, Motorola and Booking.com because they each contribute in a very different but crucial way to Israel's occupation policy and war crimes. Alstom provides transportation and infrastructure support, Motorola helps the army and police with surveillance and communications, and Booking.com is a driving force to secure income in the occupied territories through tourism.

BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and KBC invested 6.8 billion euros in these companies since the previous war in Gaza in 2014. However, it is public knowledge that they make profits in a context of illegal occupation. Through their financing, Belgian banks benefit from the proceeds of colonization. Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and KBC all claim in their investment policies that they are committed to human rights. What are these statements worth, if they ignore the UN Human Rights Council's list of companies that contribute to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories?

Below are investments - in million euros - by banks active in Belgium in three companies operating in occupied Palestinian territories. (Figures are from the financial database Refinitiv Workspace.)

 

 

Aandelen

Uitgifte van obligaties

Leningen

Totaal

BNP Paribas

Booking Holdings

209,32

672,38

263,97

1.145,67

Motorola Solutions Inc.

214,20

90,90

163,78

468,88

Alstom SA

424,38

116,19

1.342,54

1.883,11

Total

 

 

 

3.497,66

Deutsche Bank

Booking Holdings

70,95

1.148,86

263,97

1.483,78

Motorola Solutions Inc.

0,27

738,66

239,22

978,15

Alstom SA

0,47

105,99

582,92

689,38

Total

 

 

 

3.151,31

KBC

Booking Holdings

141,62

 

 

141,62

Motorola Solutions Inc.

50,00

 

 

50,00

Alstom SA

 

 

 

0,00

Total

 

 

 

191,62

Total

 

 

 

 

6.840,59

 

This is just a tip of the iceberg, as the research was limited to a sample of companies, but the list is much longer.

FairFin calls on all banks to immediately distance themselves from these illegal practices and to stop investing in these companies. As the largest shareholder of BNP Paribas, the Belgian Federal government is also implicated. It is time for Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem and Minister of Public Enterprises Petra De Sutter to bring the bank into line.

How do these companies support the occupation of Palestinian territories?

Alstom

Alstom is an international energy and transportation company headquartered in France. The company is helping to build a tramway connecting illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem with the western part of the city. In recent years, Alstom participated in several public tenders as part of the tramway project. In 2019, Alstom withdrew from a tender after significant pressure from civil society. But job postings published by the Israeli government over the past two years prove that Alstom continues to perform maintenance work on the tram line.

Moreover, on January 29, 2021, Alstom purchased Bombardier Transportation. That company is collaborating on a train connection between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that crosses the Green Line between Israel and the Palestinian territories at two points. BNP Paribas and Deutsche bank each lent almost 250 million euros to Alstom to make the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation possible.

Motorola

Motorola, through its subsidiary Motorola Solutions Israel, has been involved in Israel's occupation of illegal settlements for more than 10 years. The company works with the Israeli army, the Ministry of Defense and with illegal settlements in occupied territories. Motorola designed and manufactured the surveillance system Moto Eagle. This is used in dozens of illegal settlements in the West Bank, in the wall around Gaza and in military bases. The company also developed a communications system and GSM network for the Israeli army and police.

Booking.com

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council, tourism contributes to making illegal settlements profitable. Booking.com advertises 45 hotels and homes to rent in illegal settlements, including in East Jerusalem. By promoting hotels and homes in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as a tourist attraction, Booking.com "normalizes" and legitimizes what is recognized as an illegal situation under international law. Booking.com thus contributes and profits from maintaining, developing and expanding illegal settlements.

This article was published by FairFin, lead partner with Fair Finance Belgium.

Thank you for submitting

Your message has succesfully been placed

×