Ma'an News, Sep 4, 2009
This article was originally published by Ma'an News Agency and is republished with permission.
Norway has decided to divest from the Israeli arms firm Elbit over its role in the construction of the West Bank separation wall.
Norway's finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, made the announcement at a press conference in Oslo on Thursday the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
In response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned Norway's ambassador, stating that "Israel will consider further steps of protest in the future."
Halvorsen said the decision was based on the recommendation of a Norweigan Ministry of Finance council whose role is to ensure that government investments abroad meet ethical guidelines, the Israeli newspaper stated.
"We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law," Halvorsen was quoted as saying in a report on the Norwatch Web site.
Elbit manufactures a surveillance system installed on several parts of the separation wall.
Haaretz said the recommendation submitted by the Ministry of Finance council on ethics stated that it considered "the fund's investment in Elbit to constitute an unacceptable risk of complicity in serious violations of fundamental ethical norms."
The council was referring to a 2004 International Court of Justice ruling, stating that the wall represented a breach of international law.
The wall is, in reality, a network of walls, fences, and guard towers designed to stretch 700 kilometers through the interior of the West Bank. The barrier also severs Jerusalem from the surrounding West Bank, loops around settlements, and dissects Palestinian communities. Israel says the wall is intended to stop Palestinian attacks.
The Norwegian government has come under pressure from pro-Palestinian groups calling for divestment from firms involved in settlements, the wall, and other aspects of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
According to Haaretz, 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 the development and construction of settlements in the West Bank, the newspaper said.
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