[Boycott - Divestment]
Swedish pension giant shuns Israeli arms maker
30 March 2010
STOCKHOLM ó The biggest Swedish pension fund said Monday it had barred Israeli arms maker Elbit Systems from its investment portfolios on ethical grounds.
Following the lead of Norway's state oil fund, Foersta AP-Fonden said it had banned investment in Elbit because it had built and was operating a surveillance system for a controversial barrier between Israel and the West Bank.
"The Ethical Council recommended that Elbit Systems Ltd should be excluded from each portfolio because it deems that the company can be linked to violations of fundamental conventions and norms," it said in a statement.
Israel says the barrier -- a network of walls, fences and closed military roads -- is designed to prevent attacks. The Palestinians view it as an "apartheid wall" that carves off key parts of their future state.
Israel has so far completed 413 kilometres (256 miles) of the planned 709-kilometre (435-mile) barrier, according to UN figures.
When completed, 85 percent of the wall will have been built inside the West Bank, taking land from villages like Bilin and Nilin.
The international community has condemned Israel's decision to construct the barrier.
The Swedish fund, which only had small investments in Elbit according to its ethics council chairwoman Annika Andersson, said that Grupo Ferrovial, PetroChina, Thales and Yahoo had successfully addressed its concerns about ethics violations.
Last September, Norway's state pension fund, one of the world's biggest investors, also banned Elbit from its portfolio, prompting the Israeli foreign ministry to summon Norway's ambassador in protest at the move.
Swedish pension fund bans Israeli firm
30 March 2010
Sweden's biggest retirement fund boycotts an Israeli electronics company involved in the operation of the surveillance system installed on the West Bank separation barrier.
The Israeli army's Elbit Systems has been barred by the Forsta AP-Fonden pension fund in protest to the firm's role in the construction of the "apartheid wall" erected deep inside the Palestinian territories.
The separation wall runs 709 kilometers (435 miles) through the West Bank, isolates Palestinian orchards and cuts the locals from hundreds of hectares of their land. This is leading to the total isolation of the Palestinian Plains ó the fruit basket of Palestine ó in the Jordan valley area.
The Swedish Pensions fund stated on its website that the Ethical Council urged the boycott of Elbit Systems due to the company's involvement in the Annexation Wall, which Stockholm deems illegal under international law.
Israel has been pushing ahead with the erection of the separation wall, defying the 2004 advisory ruling of the International Court at The Hague which said the move violates international law.
In September 2009, the State Pension Fund in Norway also decided to boycott the Haifa-based Elbit Systems, infuriating Tel Aviv officials who summoned the Norwegian ambassador to protest the decision.
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