Monday, 20 January 2014

Israeli border police shoot, injure Palestinian near Hebron

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli border police officer shot and wounded a Palestinian man near the illegal settlement of Telem in Hebron on Monday.

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Ma'an that a Palestinian man approached a female border police officer at a base outside Hebron. After being told to stop in Hebrew and Arabic, the female officer fired a warning shot in the air.

The man then approached another a second officer in the area, who called on the suspect to stop before firing a warning shot in the air and shooting the man. more

Gaza families visit relatives jailed in Israel

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Fifteen family members from the Gaza Strip visited relatives jailed in Israel on Monday, an official from the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Nasser al-Najjar told Ma'an that 15 people, including three children, left the coastal enclave via the Erez Crossing to visit 11 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails. more

Pressure on Israeli banks from investors intensifies

From the Financial Times (subscription may apply)
ABP, the world’s third-largest pension fund, and two major European investors are reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks over concerns that the banks finance illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian-occupied territories.

As well as ABP, the Dutch pension fund with €300bn of assets under management, the investors include Nordea Investment Management, a €130bn Scandinavian fund house, and DNB Asset Management, a €60bn Norwegian fund group.

All three want more information from the Israeli banks about their involvement in financing the settlements, which contravene international human rights laws established under the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2004.

A spokesperson for KLP, one of the biggest Norwegian pension funds, with €45bn of assets, also confirmed that “dilemmas linked to financing [of Israeli settlements] will be discussed at KLP”.

Palestinians see the settlements as an obstacle to achieving a viable state, and most countries consider the settlements illegal. The reviews come after PGGM, the second-largest Dutch pension fund, two weeks ago became the first big investor to dump its holdings in five large Israeli banks : Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot.

PGGM said in a statement: “Given the day-to-day reality and domestic legal framework they operate in, the banks have limited to no possibilities to end their involvement in the financing of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. “Therefore it was concluded that engagement as a tool to bring about change will not be effective in this case.” ABP has held talks with three of the banks over the settlement issue for a year. The pension fund might exclude the stocks “as a last resort” if the banks fail to act on ABP’s complaints, a spokesperson said.

Nordea Investment Management has sent letters to Leumi and Mizrahi “regarding concerns about the violation of international norms”, Sasja Beslik, Nordea’s head of responsible investment, told FTfm.

The Scandinavian fund house plans to meet these banks in March before taking a decision on whether to withdraw their investment at a committee meeting in May.

DNB Asset Management’s external consultancy GES is engaging with several Israeli banks on this issue. Israel Discount Bank declined to comment. Banks Hapoalim and Leumi did not respond to requests for comment. more