September 03, 2009

MAJOR victory: Norway divests from Elbit

The Norwegian government has decided to pull all of its investments from Israeli arms firm Elbit as a result of it involvement in the construction of the West Bank separation fence, the Norwegian Finance Minister announced on Thursday

Kristin Halvorsen, speaking at a Oslo press conference, said that the decision was based on the recommendation of Norway's Ministry ofFinance council on ethics, whose role is to ensure that governmentinvestments abroad meet ethical guidelines.

"We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law," Halvorsen was quoted as saying in a Norwatch report.

Elbit manufactures the monitoring system installed on several parts of the West Bank separation fence.

The recommendation submitted by the Ministry of Finance council on ethics stated that it considered "the fund's investment in Elbit to constitute an unacceptable risk of complicity in serious violations of fundamental ethical norms."

The council is thus explicitly referring to a 2004 International Court of Justice ruling, stating that the separation fence represented a breach of international law.

Palestinian as well as Israeli anti-occupation groups, aided by Norwegian leftists, have all protested extensively against Norwegian involvement in companies involved in West Bank development and construction over last two years, which have seen an increase in Norway's investment in Israeli firms.

Norway's pension fund is invested in 41 different Israeli companies.

A research project by the Coalition of Women for Peace called "Who profits from the occupation" found that almost two thirds of those firms are involved in West Bank construction and development. (Amira Haas, Haaretz)


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