Pension Fund remains "neutral"

Activists call on ABP to stop investing in occupied Palestinian territories

Geldbiljetten. Foto: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

“Pension fund ABP has invested 2.5 billion euros in the Israelian occupation and colonisation of Palestine”, claims The Rights Forum, an organisation that defends the rights of Palestinians.

The organisation is referring to investments in companies such as the Israel Discount Bank, Booking Holdings, Expedia, Airbnb, and Motorola. According to them, the pension fund has been asked to discontinue such investments for a decade. The website of The Rights Forum has published a letter that sympathisers can copy and email to ABP.

The letter says that settlements in the Palestinian territories have been deemed illegal by the Netherlands, the United Nations, and the European Union. For this reason, they call on the pension fund to announce the discontinuation of investments that facilitate human rights violations by February 29.

Sad and worrisome
The pension fund reacted by saying: “ABP finds the situation in Israel and Gaza sad and worrisome.” It admits investing in companies that “supply products that are used all over the world, possibly including Israel and Gaza”. ABP also invests in several Israeli companies.

The pension fund uses four criteria for its investments: return, risk, costs and “how the company performs in terms of sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship”. But ABP doesn’t wish to be transparent in this regard. “We cannot publicly disclose the exact assessment of how companies perform according to these four criteria because this information is competition sensitive."

The composition of the investment portfolio is published on ABP’s website. “We publish it on our website with a delay of one quarter, again because of competition sensitivity,” ABP explains. If the attack by Hamas and the ongoing bombarding of Gaza have made any difference to strategy, it’s not visible yet. The fund says that, whenever "new developments" occur, it evaluates whether investments are still sustainable and responsible. 

Human rights
ABP has already cut ties with two Israeli banks over construction projects located in Israeli settlements on the West Bank. According to the pension fund, the banks in question had no human rights policy. 

Experience shows that protests can be effective. The pension fund has recently announced it will discontinue investments in oil, gas and coal, following protests from climate activists. 

ABP manages the pensions of about three million Dutch citizens who work or used to work at governmental or semi-public institutions. It’s one of the biggest pension funds in the world.

Tags: Palestina | israel | abp