By Roger Fowler
The multi-billion-dollar NZ Super Fund (state pension fund), has finally divested from five of Israel’s biggest banks due to their funding of illegal settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
New Zealand Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman said the Green Party welcomed the decision, telling the Spinoff:
“Our nation’s values and legal obligations have been long in breach by investments facilitating what the United Nations has consistently called an illegal occupation, causing the suffering of the Palestinian people, and leading to a number of other breaches of humanitarian law.”
— BDS movement (@BDSmovement) March 3, 2021
A Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) statement this week, said that Palestinian supporters in Aotearoa/New Zealand have frequently complained about these banks to the NZ Super Fund, especially following a 2018 report by Human Rights Watch which identified these banks’ active participation in settlement building in breach of international law.
In 2012, the NZ Super Fund ended its investment with three Israeli companies on ethical grounds. These were companies that were directly building illegal settlements on Palestinian land.
NZ's $50b Super Fund is divesting from Israeli banks that fund settlement construction in West Bank and Gaza https://t.co/HwnSkXXlcj
— The Spinoff (@TheSpinoffTV) March 4, 2021
Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa spokesperson Janfrie Wakim said that the NZ Super Fund has, at last, conducted a thorough investigation and reached a firm conclusion that it would be unethical to continue to invest in these banks.
“There is a wealth of reliable information and law that makes any continuing NZ Super Fund investment with these banks untenable. No New Zealand institution should provide any support to the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian people in their homeland and the brutal Israeli occupation.”
“The Fund still has investments in other Israeli companies, and the Fund says it will be paying close attention to any future reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights about the culpability of other Israeli companies in illegal settlement construction,” Wakim added.
NZ Government ‘Lagging behind’
Janfrie Wakim also said that the NZ Super Fund divestment decision – and the evidence it has used – has shown up what she calls a dreadful lagging behind by the New Zealand government.
“The NZ Super Fund divested in weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems in its first round of Israeli disinvestment in 2012.”
"The New Zealand government has admitted to buying military equipment, ground tested on Palestinians, from Elbit Systems." https://t.co/SGE23ttdKw
— Electronic Intifada (@intifada) March 3, 2021
“Yet, the New Zealand government has admitted to buying military equipment, ground tested on Palestinians, from Elbit Systems, which is the very same company which the NZ Super Fund dropped from its portfolio in 2012,” Wakim continued.
The NZ Super Fund document on the Israeli banks can be found here.
– Roger Fowler is a veteran peace activist and community advocate from Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and coordinator of Kia Ora Gaza which organizes support for international solidarity convoys and the Freedom Flotillas to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. Roger is editor of kiaoragaza.net. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.