Letter to the Minister(s) of Foreign Affairs concerning warning to business about problems associated with trading with illegal Israeli settlements


Dear …

European private businesses companies contribute to human rights abuses associated with illegal Israeli settlements including by providing equipment used in house demolitions and by participating in the construction and operation of infrastructure for illegal Israeli settlements.

Following concerns raised by numerous MEPs, MP’s, civil society and thousands of European citizens a growing number of governments and businesses have recently said they will not trade with Israeli firms that operates in illegal Israeli settlements.

  • the German transport minister wrote to Deutsche Bahn to express opposition to its involvement in an Israeli train project that cuts through the occupied West Bank. Deutsche Bahn ended its involvement in the project shortly after1
  • the Netherlands based engineering firm Royal Haskoning has announced that is has decided to withdraw from a sewage treatment project in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Dutch water company – Vitens – the largest supplier of drinking water in the Netherlands ended its relationship with Israel’s national company Mekorot that subsides water supplies to the illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT and communities in Israel
  • The Romanian government has said it will stop sending construction workers to Israel if Israel don’t pledge they won’t be working in the West Bank.

  • PGGM – the Netherlands’ largest pension fund management company has decided to withdraw all its investments from Israel’s five largest banks because they have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements
  • Swedish Nordea Bank, which is the largest bank in Scandinavia, has already contacted five unnamed companies to inquire them about their settlement connections, two other companies are being monitored. The Cemex construction company has already been removed from Nordea’s investments, because “it violates human rights and exploits nonrenewable natural resources in an occupied territory”.

  • Danish Danske Bank – the largest bank in Denmark, decided to blacklist Bank Hapoalim because of its involvement in the funding of settlement construction.

  • Norwegian Ministry of Finance excluded Israeli firms Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from its Government Pension Fund Global, one of the world’s largest funds. The Ministry of Finance received a recommendation from the Council on Ethics on 1 November 2013 that it exclude the two firms “due to contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem.2

Following civil society organisations concerns the British government issued guidance on business involvement with illegal Israeli settlements, warning citizens against doing business with individuals or entities in Israeli settlements3

We’re writing to you to urge you to take action to ensure that (name of the country) government will issue warning to businesses about the problems and risks associated with doing business with illegal Israeli settlements and related activities in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

Israel’s settlement activities breach cardinal rules of international humanitarian law (IHL), and may amount to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which (name of the country) is a State Party

In March 2013, UN Human Rights Council adopted the report of the Independent Fact Finding Mission on the illegal Israeli settlements. Concluding that businesses have “enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements4,” the Mission urged governments to “to take appropriate measures” to ensure businesses do not contribute to human rights abuses associated with illegal Israeli settlements.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights urge states to provide information to help businesses avoid contributing to human rights abuses arising from conflict and to provide “adequate assistance to business enterprises to assess and address the heightened risks of abuses” in conflict areas.5

The European External Action Service has also stated that “The EU believes that the Guiding Principles on business and human rights need to be applied globally and calls on European companies to implement the Guiding Principles in all circumstances, including in Israel and occupied Palestinian territory.”6

We’re deeply concerned that (name of the country) business companies involvement in maintaining illegal situation would not only serve to encourage Israel to continue its illegal practices with impunity, but it would make the (name of the country) itself complicit in Israeli violations of international law!

The (name of the country) has a legal obligation not to provide assistance or recognition to Israeli violations of international law.

We therefore urge you to please take action to uphold international law and oppose Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights by publishing warning to businesses about the problems and risks associated with doing business with illegal Israeli settlements


Sincerely yours