European financial institutions and companies involved in illegal settlements in occupied Palestine

en fr
Hazem Bader / AFP

At a time when a genocide is unfolding in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Don’t Buy Into Occupation coalition - of which the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is a member - publishes a new report showing how hundreds of European financial institutions invest billions of dollars in companies shoring up Israeli settlements.

20 December 2023. As a genocide is unfolding in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a new report from the Don’t Buy Into Occupation (DBIO) coalition - of which FIDH is a member - shows that 776 European financial institutions had financial relationships with 51 businesses actively involved with Israeli settlements between January 2020 and August 2023.

The report reveals that 164.2 billion dollars were provided in the form of loans and underwriting during that period. European investors also held 144.7 billion dollars in shares and bonds of listed businesses. All 51 companies are involved in activities that raise human rights concerns such as settlement construction, service provision, demolition of homes and surveillance, with some listed in the United Nations database of businesses linked to Israeli settlements.

Dr. Susan Power, Head of Legal Research and Advocacy for Al-Haq, FIDH’s Palestinian member organisation, says: "The failure to hold corporations and financial institutions accountable for complicity in international crimes, including those related to settlements, is fuelling the continuing and deteriorating situation on the ground, entrenching Israel’s illegal occupation, annexation and colonisation of Palestine."

The top 10 creditors alone provided 116.55 billion dollars to listed businesses. The biggest loan and underwriting providers are BNP Paribas ($22.19 billion), HSBC ($14.21 billion), Deutsche Bank ($13.23 billion), Société Générale ($12.4 billion), KfW ($11.29 billion), Barclays ($10.63 billion), Crédit Agricole ($10.29 billion), Santander ($8.61 billion), ING Group ($7.05 billion) and UniCredit ($6.66 billion).

"European financial institutions have a big responsibility in the grave violations taking place in the Occupied Territories", says Antoine Madelin, FIDH’s Advocacy Director. "All these actors have an obligation to ensure that their activities do not contribute to the perpetuation and expansion of settlements that are illegal under international humanitarian law and several UN resolutions."

Settlement expansion is a crucial aspect of the crimes and apartheid endured by Palestinians and repeatedly denounced by FIDH and other human rights groups. While the report data refers to the total investments in companies that have some activities in the illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories, investing in a company connects the investor to all the company’s activities and adverse impacts.

Among other recommendations, the report calls on financial institutions to put in place investment policies that have “involvement in settlements in occupied territories” as a criterion for exclusion.

Read the report here

Read more