Israeli settlements – Belgium

dehaene dexia
As a reminder: Former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene was involved in the financial support to the Israeli settlements
In 2010, Dexia, a major Belgian-French bank, was still financing Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) despite official assurances that such loans have ceased. Jean-Luc Dehaene, a former Belgian prime minister who had become Dexia’s chairman, announced in 2009 that the bank had not approved any new loans to authorities located in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank since June 2008.
Jean-Luc Dehaene deceased a few years ago. Dexia split in ‘Dexia’ and a new creation called ‘Belfius’.
Belfius inherited 12.5 billion euro of Dexia. The state bank Belfius made in 2013 a profit of 445 million euro and profits doubled in 2015…

3 thoughts on “Israeli settlements – Belgium

  1. Belgian campaign targets bank financing Israeli settlements
    Adri Nieuwhof The Electronic Intifada 1 April 2009
    In a remarkably short period of time, activists in Belgium have built a strong basis for the campaign “Israel colonizes — Dexia funds,” asking the bank to divest from its subsidiary Dexia Israel because of its financing of the expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibiting the Occupying Power to deport or transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies, as well as Article 53 prohibiting the destruction of property on occupied territory. The Dexia campaign is flourishing in Belgium and may potentially spread to other countries where Dexia subsidiaries are based.

    The French-Belgian bank Dexia bought the Israeli Municipality Treasure Bank in 2001 and established Dexia Israel. Centrum voor Ontwikkeling, Documentatie en Informatie Palestijnen (CODIP), an organization focusing on Palestine, raised its concern about the transfer in a letter to Dexia’s board of directors in April 2001. The organization argues that Dexia’s investment in an Israeli bank involved in public loans might give the impression that the bank “supports Israel’s policy of occupation, colonization and discrimination.”

    Seven Belgian organizations decided to join forces in the Dexia Committee in 2008. The committee summoned the help of the Who Profits from the Occupation? project to investigate the relationship between Dexia and Israel’s occupation. In late October 2008, Who Profits informed the Dexia Committee that Dexia Public Finance Israel is involved in activities in the illegal settlements. This was clear from statements by the CEO of Dexia Israel to the Israeli parliament, that since 2005 long-term loans and other financial services were given to at least seven Israeli municipalities in different regions of the occupied West Bank, including Ariel, Alfei Menashe, Beit Aryeh, Beit-El, Elkana, Har Hebron, Kedumim and Givat Zeev.

    Deputy executive vice-president of public finance, Francois Durollet, told the campaigners on 16 November 2008 that Dexia Israel was called to account in Israel’s parliament, because it did not pay enough attention to funding of the development of settlements.

    The Dexia Committee successfully rallied for support from the Belgian parliament, city councils and districts. This resulted in questions in parliament, and decisions to support the campaign of one province and 18 city councils support the Dexia campaign. This is relevant, because the Belgian government, regions and municipalities hold respectively 5.7 percent, 5.7 percent and 14.1 percent of Dexia shares.

    The public in Belgium has responded positively to the Dexia campaign. During a massive demonstration against the Israeli attacks on Gaza in Brussels on 11 January, in which 70,000 citizens participated, participants threw shoes at the Dexia offices to show their dissatisfaction with the bank’s investments in the illegal settlements. An informational meeting organized at the end of January was attended by 265 persons and 60 individuals had to return home because of the meeting hall was at capacity. In a video message from Ramallah, Omar Barghouti, a leader of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, spoke to the audience about the need to become active in the Dexia campaign. Several weeks later, many responded to the call to phone Dexia’s complaints service and ask for the bank’s divestment from Dexia Israel during the week of 16-20 March.

    A well attended press conference was held on Land Day, 30 March, which commemorates the deaths of six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were killed by state forces in 1976. During the press conference the Dexia Campaign announced the launch of an online petition to call for Dexia’s divestment from funding illegal activities in the Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

    The Dexia Committee has raised substantial support for the “Israel colonizes — Dexia funds” campaign. In a few months’ time, 45 organizations, including political parties and national trade unions, gave their support. Trade unions organizing workers in the banking sector also joined the campaign, including the Christian ACV. The ACV, with almost two million members, is the largest Belgian federation of labor, and its branch organizing office workers is the largest in the ACV federation. The ACV is part of a broad national Christian workers movement, organized under the umbrella organization Algemene Christelijke Werknemer Bond (ACW). The ACW own 13.9 percent of the shares in Dexia and its chairman, Jan Renders, is a member of the board of directors of Dexia. The support of the ACV is crucial to influence the position of ACW as co-owner and co-governor of Dexia. The workers at Dexia own another 2.6 percent of the shares and their interest is protected by their trade union leaders, who task one representative to speak and vote for the workers at the shareholders meeting.

    Dexia can expect a heated debate about divestment from Dexia Israel at its shareholders meeting in May 2009 as the Dexia campaign has raised the support of Dexia shareholders.

    Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.


  2. Dexia: A sleazy bank aiding Israeli settlers
    David Cronin Rights and Accountability 5 August 2013
    The 137-meter-tall building Rogier Tower in Brussels was home to the bank Dexia until recently.

    Since 2009, representatives of Dexia have repeatedly promised not to issue loans for work undertaken by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. The promises have been broken.

    Intal, a Belgian campaign group, has documented how Dexia has kept on financing the theft of Palestinian land. In November last year, for example, the bank went guarantor along with the Israeli defense ministry for a project in the settlement of Kedumim. The previous year Dexia agreed to provide another settlement, Ariel, with a loan of 2.5 million shekels ($700,000).

    Many of the empty pledges have been made directly by Jean-Luc Dehaene, the former Belgian prime minister, who served as Dexia’s chairperson from 2008 until 2012. Responding to a barrage of questions by shareholders at the bank’s annual meetings, Dehaene has claimed that its subsidiary Dexia Israel was not part of the parent bank’s “core business.”

    A new book Dexia: Une Banque Toxique (Dexia: A Toxic Bank) traces how Dexia’s one-time chief executive Pierre Richard set an objective in 1997 of becoming the world leader for financing local authorities within five years. Dexia Israel was formed as part of that game-plan in 2001.

    Written by Nicolas Cori and Catherine Le Gall, the book examines the role played by Dexia in creating a financial crisis for French public bodies. Administrators of services vital to the welfare state — including hospitals and housing — were sold a range of derivatives and other exotic “products” by Dexia, without the inherent risks being explained to them.

    The authors don’t flinch in calling out some Dexia bigwigs as liars. In his testimony to a French parliamentary enquiry during 2011, Pierre Richard had the audacity to argue that Dexia’s predatory activities were merely a response to demands from local authorities hoping to “benefit” from the liberalization of the financial markets that began in the 1980s.

    This claim was “especially laughable,” according to the authors, considering that there was little knowledge of how modern finance worked among local authorities.

    Some of Dexia’s “products” were deceptively named. One type of loans was called Tofix. As that name strongly resembled the French words taux fixe, it conveyed the impression that it was based on a fixed rate of interest. In reality, the contracts involved varying interest rates.

    Gérard Bayol, a former director-general of the bank, swore to the parliamentary enquiry that Dexia reserved its most complex loans for authorities with a population catchment area of more than 10,000. A few weeks before he told this fib, a mayor of Trégastel (population: 2,400) handed documents to the enquiry which proved the exact opposite.

    Dexia’s gambling debts are being paid by hard-pressed taxpayers. To date, it has been rescued three times by France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The aid has included a €90 billion ($119.3 billion) package in funding guarantees.

    As a minimum, the three states should have insisted that Dexia ceases to assist Israel’s violations of international law. So far they have refused to do so. Dehaene, now a member of the European Parliament, has faced no consequences for making promises he had no intention of keeping.

    Whereas Rogier Tower sits beside a ramshackle district, the façade of Dexia’s then headquarters has been frequently illuminated by a multi-colored display over the past few years. This stab at sophistication can’t conceal the amoral nature of the bank’s activities.
    David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War (Pluto, 2013). His earlier book is Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto, 2011).
    Dexia Belgium France Brussels settlers Israeli settlements Intal Kedumim Ariel Jean-Luc Dehaene Pierre Richard Nicolas Cori Catherine Le Gall Gerard Bayol Luxembourg European Parliament


  3. Belgian campaign forces financial group to cancel settlement loans
    15 June 2009
    The Belgian-French financial group Dexia has announced it will no longer finance Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through its Israeli branch, Dexia Israel. This is the result of a months-long campaign in Belgium, supported by non-governmental organizations, political parties, local authorities, trade unions and other organizations. Dexia’s management has stated that financing Israeli settlements is indeed against the bank’s code of ethics and thusly, it will stop giving loans for this activity.

    In 2001 Dexia Group bought the Israeli bank Otzar Hashilton Hamekomi and renamed the bank Dexia Public Finance Israel. Just like other Dexia subsidiaries, Dexia Israel is specialized in financing municipalities and other local authorities.

    It wasn’t until October 2008 that a few Belgian solidarity groups discovered that Dexia Israel was not only financing regular Israeli municipalities but was also granting loans to illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories. In a Knesset (Israeli parliament) document, the director of Dexia Israel, David Kapah, confirmed that the bank had indeed granted credits to seven settlements and three regional authorities in the occupied West Bank between 2003 and 2007.

    This “smoking gun” evidence entailed the start of a fast-growing campaign in Belgium. United under the slogan “Israel colonizes, Dexia finances,” the campaign achieved its first successes. In the following months, petitions were being launched, MPs were questioned and local actions were started up. Significant was the support of local Belgian authorities such as municipalities and provinces, as they hold a vast amount of shares in Dexia Group.

    Today, the action platform consists of 61 Belgian organizations and has gathered more than 4,000 signatures and got 29 local authorities to sign a resolution demanding that Dexia break off its relations with the settlements and immediately stop financing the occupation.

    “Guilty, but we won’t do it again”

    For several months the Belgian government and Dexia management didn’t respond to the demands of the action platform. However, as the campaign started to receive more media coverage and the pressure started to rise, something changed. On 13 May, campaign activists were able to voice demands at the annual shareholders meeting of Dexia Group in Brussels.

    In response, Jean-Luc Dehaene, chairman of the board of Dexia and former Belgian prime minister, admitted that the bank had been extending loans to Israeli colonies. He stressed however that, since September 2008, there has been no additional financing of these or other colonies.

    Dehaene declared that no new loans will be granted to the settlements. He added that the credits and loans to the settlements that were granted before are in runoff and will no longer be prolonged; neither will they be replaced by similar loans.

    “In the past, Dexia Israel granted 5 million euros of loans to the settlements; this was only one percent of the total budget of Dexia Israel. The loans to the Jerusalem municipality are not included in this amount, as Dexia Group feels that Jerusalem is not contested territory,” Dehaene stated.

    However, East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory under international law. Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem in June 1967, and extended Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration to this part of the city. In response, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 252 stating that it “Considers that all legislative measures by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem … invalid and cannot change that status.”

    In 1980 Israel declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, including East Jerusalem. That same year the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 476, in which the Security Council “Reconfirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

    Dexia’s financial support to the municipality of Jerusalem can be considered support to the colonization of East Jerusalem.

    Dehaene also stated that the activities of Dexia Israel no longer belong to the core business of Dexia Group, stating: “Don’t be surprised [if] at one point, Dexia Group will sell Dexia Israel.”

    The campaign has been fruitful already, but this is not the end.

    According to Mario Franssen, spokesperson of the action platform, the campaign will continue until Dexia has officially declared — and provided the proof for — a full stop of settlement funding, including the disputed loans to Jerusalem. Franssen explains that the action platform is not yet satisfied, but these concessions from Dexia are a good start. “We are still demanding a full and immediate stop of all connections between Dexia and the colonies. Dexia is guilty of financing the occupation, and this has to end,” Franssen added.
    En 2001, Dexia SA prend le contrôle de banque israélienne Otzar Hashilton Hamekomi. Aujourd’hui, il est avéré que Dexia Israël finance des colonies dans les territoires occupés palestiniens. M. David Kapah, directeur de Dexia Israël, l’a explicitement déclaré à la Knesset, lors d’une séance en commission des finances, le 19 juin 2007.

    Que sont les colonies?
    Depuis l’occupation de la bande de Gaza et de la Cisjordanie après la guerre de juin 1967, Israël a commencé à y construire des colonies. Or, en vertu de l’article 49 de la IV° Convention de Genève, toute colonisation est illégale. Malgré les nombreuses résolutions de l’ONU condamnant cette pratique, Israël refuse de se soumettre au droit international.

    L’impact sur les Palestiniens
    * Vols de terres palestiniennes.
    * Restriction d’accès aux ressources en eau.
    * Entraves à la liberté de mouvement; réseau routier inaccessible aux Palestiniens et checkpoints.
    * Démolitions de maisons et expropriations arbitraires de familles.
    * Violences quotidiennes subies par la population de la part des colons israéliens.
    * Destruction et pollution des sols entraînant des conséquences écologiques dramatiques.
    In 2001 neemt Dexia NV de controle over de Israëlische bank Otzar Hashilton Hamekomi. Vandaag weten we dat Dexia Israël kolonies in de bezette Palestijnse gebieden financiert.

    De directeur van Dexia Israël, Dhr. David Kapah, verklaarde dit in de Knesset, het Israëlisch parlement, tijdens een commissiezitting van 19 juni 2007.

    Wat zijn kolonies?
    Na de militaire bezetting van de Gazastrook en de Westelijke Jordaanoever vanaf de juni-oorlog van 1967, startte Israël met de bouw van kolonies. Nochtans zegt artikel 49 van de IV-de Conventie van Geneve dat alle kolonies illegaal zijn. Ondanks verschillende resoluties van de VN die de bouw ervan veroordelen, weigert Israël zich aan het Internationaal Recht te onderwerpen.

    Wat betekent dit voor de Palestijnen?
    * Diefstal van Palestijnse grond.
    * Belemmering van de toegang tot waterbronnen.
    * Beknotting van bewegingsvrijheid door het opdelen van de Westelijke Jordaanoeverdoor middel van checkpoints en een wegennet dat niet toegankelijk is voor Palestijnen.
    * Vernietiging van huizen en willekeurig verdrijven van families.
    * Geweld van Israëlische kolonisten tegen de bevolking.
    * Vernietiging en vervuiling van de grond met rampzalige gevolgen voor het milieu.


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