Europe

Israel's top banks and several major firms are being boycotted for their business involvement in settlements

The pension fund of Luxembourg's government workers has added all of five of Israel's major banks and several top Israeli firms to its list of banned investment targets.

The fund, FDC, is the latest in a line of European banks, pension funds and business firms to boycott Israeli business over its involvement in settlement activity in the West Bank.

The fund, which invests some $10 billion, lists 61 foreign firms banned for investment for a variety of reasons - ranging from violation of child labor laws to environmental damage and involvement in nuclear weapons programs.

Among them are such giants as US Boeing Aerospace and Defense, boycotted over its involvement in nuclear programs, Chevron Oil for allegedly causing environmental damage to the Amazon jungle in Ecuador, Bridgestone Automotive for alleged involvement in child labor in Liberia, Lockheed Martin over its involvement in nuclear weapons program in the UK and in manufacture of cluster bomb munitions.

Israel's banks are on the list because of their involvement in "financing illegal settlements in occupied territories (State of Palestine)." Other firms, such as Motorola, are also on the list for "assisting in human rights violations in occupied territories (State of Palestine)," as is the Africa Israel real estate corporation (AFI) for "supporting construction of illegal settlements in occupied territories (State of Palestine)."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asked about various boycotts of Israel, said such moves only serve to delay efforts to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace. "It's not justified morally to boycott Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Are there any other countries that have thousands of missiles directed at them?" Netanyahu asked, speaking at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "It's neither moral nor productive."

Merkel said she, too, objected to boycotts of Israel. "This is not an option for Germany," she said. "We don't believe it advances the peace process."

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