It was of course too good to last, that Norway would take a balanced stance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular in the middle of complex negotiations, where Israel already has paid with blood and endured more than 28 rocket attacks, while the PA continuously incites against Israelis in general, Jews in particular. Now, reversing a decision in to allow investment in Israeli companies, the Conservative lead coalition is showing its true colors with regards to Israel. The smaller coalition partner, the Progressive party is already paying a very high price for its dalliance, now trailing badly in polls.
Interesting that it is mainly Israeli firms that are selected for such special treatment whereas companies that contribute in a major way to human rights violations, destruction of the nature and the environment, economic crimes on a grand scale, etc, are left off the hook. Might it be because many of the above mentioned companies are Norwegian Flagship companies?
Reuters 2014 01 30
No stated author
OSLO, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Norway’s finance ministry has told its $810 billion oil fund, the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, to stop investing in two Israeli firms and one Indian company on ethical grounds.
The ministry instructed the fund for a second time to exclude Africa Israel Investments and its construction subsidiary Danya Cebus from its investments and also said it should not invest in Sesa Sterlite , India’s biggest zinc and aluminium maker.
After the decision, 63 firms stand on the exclusion list, including some of the world’s biggest miners, tobacco producers and makers of certain weapons such as cluster bombs.
Separately, the finance ministry said it would now allow the wealth fund to buy sovereign bonds issued by Myanmar, after the lifting of international sanctions on the Asian country.
But the fund is now barred from buying sovereign bonds issued by North Korea, Syria and Iran, although none of these countries currently issues sovereign bonds.
Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus were first excluded from the fund in 2010 because they were involved in the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank but the ban was lifted last August.
The government reinstated the exclusion “due to contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem”, it said in a statement.
Many countries deem Israel’s settlements illegal and an obstacle to peacemaking.
Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus were not immediately available for comment.
Sesa Sterlite, a subsidiary of mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources, was also excluded as Vedanta’s “relevant operations in India, which are run through the company Sesa Sterlite, present an unacceptable risk of environmental damage and serious violations of human rights”.
Sesa Sterlite was not immediately available for comment.
Vedanta was itself excluded from the fund’s investment portfolio in 2007.
“The fund runs an unacceptable risk of contributing to severe environmental damages and serious or systematic violations of human rights by continuing to invest in the company,” the ministry said when it excluded Vedanta.
The fund, which invests Norway’s surplus oil revenues, is not allowed to invest in firms involved in severe environmental damage, “serious and systematic human rights violation,” such as forced labour, the worst forms of child labour, murder or torture.
The Local 2014 01 30
Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, blacklisted two Israeli companies involved in construction of settlements in East Jerusalem, the country’s finance ministry said Thursday.
The ban on investing in the firms revived a three-year prohibition on them that the Government Pension Fund of Norway had dropped in August last year.
The companies are Africa Israel Investments, an Israeli real estate developer, and its construction subsidiary Danya Cerbus.
The ministry cited the company’s alleged “contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem,” a territory where Israel’s claims are not recognised by the international community.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is fed by the country’s oil surplus. It is worth an estimated $818 billion according to the SWF Institute, a body that tracks such funds.
As well as resuming the Israeli firm blacklisting, Norway suspended a restriction on the fund buying bonds issued in Myanmar, leaving only North Korea, Iran and Syria on the list of countries ineligible for investment.
Ministry of Finance of Norway
News story, 30.01.2014
New decisions about the Government Pension Fund Global
Exclusion of companies: The Ministry of Finance has decided to exclude the companies Sesa Sterlite, Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG).
On the 13th of September 2013, the Ministry of Finance received a recommendation from the Council of Ethics to exclude the company Sesa Sterlite from the GPFG. The recommendation builds on an earlier recommendation to exclude the company Vedanta Resources Ltd. (Vedanta ) and two of its subsidiaries, which operate in India. The Ministry followed the Council’s recommendation to exclude Vedanta and its two subsidiaries in 2007.
Sesa Sterlite is a newly established subsidiary of Vedanta. The Council’s assessment is that the relevant operations in India, which are currently run through the company Sesa Sterlite, present an unacceptable risk of environmental damage and serious violations of human rights. The Council has regularly updated its assessment of Vedanta and the basis for exclusion is still considered to be present. The Ministry of Finance, in accordance with the Council’s recommendation, has decided to exclude Sesa Sterlite from the Fund’s investment universe, as well as to maintain the exclusion of Vedanta.
On the 1st of November 2013, the Ministry of Finance received a recommendation from the Council of Ethics to exclude the companies Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from the Fund due to contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem. The companies were excluded during the period August 2010 to August 2013 on the basis of similar activities. The Ministry of Finance has decided to follow the Council’s recommendation.
The Ministry’s final decision on whether or not to divest from a company is made on the basis of the Council’s recommendation. The Ministry has not made an independent assessment of every aspect of the Council’s recommendation but is satisfied that the recommendation document establishes with reasonable certainty that an investment in the company represents an unacceptable risk of violating the Ethical Guidelines.