Between 2018 and May 2021, 672 European financial institutions, including banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and pension funds, have financial relationships with 50 businesses that are actively involved with illegal Israeli settlements, according to the DBIO's new report.
These financial institutions provided US$114 billion in the form of loans and underwritings and held investments to the amount of US$141 billion in shares and bonds of these companies during this period. Amongst them are major UK banks.
What are illegal Israeli settlements?
Under international law, Israeli settlements, their maintenance and expansion are illegal and comprise a number of acts that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The settlement enterprise has resulted in a myriad of human rights violations against the Palestinian population. Israel has evicted Palestinians from their homes and created coercive environments that force displacement. The Israeli government has also introduced discriminatory planning and zoning policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and demolished houses to facilitate the creation and expansion of settlements. The settlements are also accused of rendering sustainable and independent social and economic development for Palestinians in the OPTs impossible to achieve.
The maintenance and growth of the settlements would not have been possible without private actors, including businesses and financial institutions. The companies listed in the report have facilitated the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements.
Business enterprises, including financial institutions, that are directly or indirectly involved in the Israeli settlement enterprise run a high risk of involvement in violations of international law and potential complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity - including through finance, insurance, and trade with partners, suppliers and subsidiaries.
Which banks and companies are involved with Israeli settlements?
The DBIO report highlights the top ten European creditors in companies involved in Israeli settlements, with French bank BNP Paribas coming out on top, having provided these companies with US$17.30 billion in loans and underwriting between 2018 and May 2021, and Germany’s Deutsche Bank coming a close second, having provided US$412.03 billion.
Two major UK banks, HSBC and Barclays, are next on the list, providing US$8.72 billion to 17 companies (HSBC), and US$8.69 billion (Barclays). Santander was the seventh largest financier, having provided US$4.75 billion.
Barclays, the fourth largest creditor, provides loans and underwriting to more than 16 different companies worldwide directly related to Israeli illegal settlements, including Airbnb, Tripadvisor and eDreams, which are seen as key players in the aggravation and extension of the settlement enterprise. Other companies that received loans from Barclays include Altice Europe, which provides technical services of telecommunication, and building services companies Caterpillar (CAT) and HeidelbergCement. Those companies play a direct logistical role in the expansion of illegal settlements as they are engaged in the construction of these settlements.