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Ministry summons Dutch envoy over pension fund divestment
By HERB KEINON
10/01/2014
PGGM announces decision to divest from Israeli banks; envoy told Israel expects the Netherlands to object the move.
 
For the second time in the last month and a half, the Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the Dutch ambassador to protest against a large Dutch company’s decision to sever ties with Israel.

Raffi Schutz, the ministry’s deputy director-general for European affairs, told the ambassador that the decision of PGGM pension fund to divest from Israel is unacceptable and relies on false pretexts.

Schutz told Ambassador Caspar Velkamp that Israel expected the Dutch government, in “the spirit of friendship between our countries, to take an unequivocal stance against such steps, which only wreak damage to the relations between Israel and the Netherlands.”

The PGGM company announced its decision to divest on its website on Wednesday from Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank.

PGGM is among the Netherlands’ largest pension fund managers, with assets in excess of €153 billion ($210b.). Its dealing with Israeli banks amounts to tens of millions of euros, according to Haaretz.

It is the latest in a string of large Dutch companies that have cut off ties with Israeli entities.

Last month, Dutch water giant Vitens canceled cooperation with Israel’s water corporation Mekorot because of alleged infractions of international law.

In August, another Dutch firm, the Royal HaskoningDHV engineering company, canceled its participation in building a sewage treatment plant because it was across the Green Line.
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