Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
14 June 2024

Student Life
& Society

Appeal to ABP: stop investing in occupied Palestinian territories

Pension fund ABP must stop investing in companies that facilitate the occupation of Palestinian territories, activists say. ABP has adopted a neutral stance for the moment.

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

It reportedly concerns investments in companies such as the Israel Discount Bank, Booking Holdings, Expedia, Airbnb and Motorola. According to The Rights Forum, for ten years now the pension fund has been asked to discontinue such investments. The website now contains a standard letter that sympathisers can email to ABP.

The settlements in the Palestinian territories have been labelled illegal by the Netherlands, the letter reads. The United Nations and the European Union have done so as well. That’s why ABP would need to announce it is stopping investments that continue to facilitate human rights violations by 29 February.

Sad and worrisome

In a response, the pension fund says: “ABP thinks the situation in Israel and Gaza is 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 a number of Israelian 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 the fund doesn’t wish to be transparent in this respect. “We cannot publicly disclose the exact assessment of how companies perform with respect to these four criteria. This is due to competition sensitivity.”

The composition of the investment portfolio is published on ABP’s website. “This does happen with a delay of one quarter, again because of competition sensitivity”, according to the explanation. 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 in the event of ‘new developments’, it evaluates whether investments are still sustainable and responsible.

Human rights

ABP previously cut ties with two Israelian banks over construction projects in Israelian settlements on the West Bank. According to the pension fund, these banks had no human rights policies.

Protests can have an effect. Following persistent criticism by climate activists, for example, the pension fund announced it will discontinue investments in oil, gas and coal.

ABP manages the pension money of about three million Dutch people who worked at the government or semi-public institutions. It’s one of the biggest pension funds in the world.

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