O fundo de pensões do governo norueguês vendeu sua participação de $5.4 biliões de dolares na empresa israelita Elbit Systems, alegando razões de fundo ético, já que a companhia forneceu equipamentos de vigilância para a barreira que separa Israel da Cisjordânia, disse o governo da Noruega na passada quinta-feira.
O fundo, que acumula mais de US$ 400 bilhões, segue directrizes éticas estabelecidas pelo governo, e no passado já se recusou a investir em mais de 20 empresas que produzem armas nucleares ou munições de fragmentação, prejudicam o meio ambiente ou cometem abusos aos direitos humanos e laborais.
Mas a remoção da Elbit do seu portfólio pressupõe uma crítica a acções do governo de Israel, o que torna a decisão mais política do que exclusões anteriores do fundo.
"A liberdade de movimentos das pessoas que vivem no Território Ocupado (Cisjordânia) tem sido inaceitavelmente restringida," disse ela.
Just World News
Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen today announced that the country's $400 billion-strong sovereign wealth fund, the Oil Fund, has divested itself of all investments in the large Elbit company, based on Elbit's involvement in the building and maintenance of the illegal Wall built by Israel deep inside the occupied West Bank.
Elbit, based in Haifa, makes surveillance systems used by Israel on the wall.
Bloomberg reports that Halvorsen told a press conference in Oslo today that,
- "[I]nvestment in Elbit constitutes an unacceptable risk of contribution to serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.”
... “The International Court of Justice has ruled that the building of this barrier violates international law and the Norwegian authorities have expressed the same opinion... The decision to exclude this company is not on the background of its nationality. The surveillance system Elbit delivers to the Israeli authorities is a central component of this separation barrier, or wall.”
- Norway's pension fund is invested in 41 different Israeli companies.
A research project by the Coalition of Women for Peace called "Who profits from the occupation" found that almost two thirds of those firms are involved in West Bank construction and development.
Norway's decision on Elbit is a breakthrough. The Bloomberg piece gives more details about the operations, thinking, and other recent ethics-related decisions taken by the country's Finance Ministry regarding the investment portfolio of the Norwegian Oil Fund.
It tells us that before today, the ministry, based on the advice of the ethics council that the Oil Fund established in 2004, had previously divested itself from 30 other companies, though some of these bans were later rescinded. For example, a ban was earlier imposed on Thales, Europe’s biggest maker of military electronics, because it was making cluster munitions; when that production stopped, the ban was rescinded.
I hope that portfolio managers in other institutions with large investment portfolios-- including of course, pension funds and universities in the US-- are looking closely at Norway's latest decision and, crucially, the reasoning behind it.
Divesting from direct financial entanglement with Israel's large-scale and continuing construction and control projects in the occupied territories strikes me as unquestionably the right thing to do, regardless what one thinks about the issue of a broader divestment from Israel as a whole so long as its government continues with these illegal policies.