Belgian bank financing Israeli settlements
David Cronin The Electronic Intifada 13 April 2010
BRUSSELS (IPS) – Dexia, a major Belgian-French bank, is continuing to finance Israeli authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) almost a year after it indicated that it would cease providing loans to illegal settlements.
In May 2009, Dexia promised that it would not lend any fresh money to councils representing Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.
Although Palestinian solidarity activists regarded the announcement as a victory for a campaign they had fought against Dexia, they are not satisfied that all the bank’s transactions with Israeli settlements have been halted.
Intal, a human rights group in Brussels, says it will protest at Dexia’s annual shareholders’ meeting next month, because many of the earlier loans issued to Israeli settlements run until 2017 and are unaffected by last year’s pledge.
“We are calling on Dexia to cut all ties with the occupation [of Palestine],” Intal spokesman Mario Franssen told IPS. “How they do that is up to them. We’re not asking for a boycott of Israel in this case but probably the only solution is for them to get out.”
Dexia’s involvement with Israeli settlements first came to the knowledge of campaign groups in Europe during October 2008, the same month that the governments of Belgium, France and Luxembourg agreed to a multi-billion euro rescue package to prevent the bank from collapsing. In statements to the Israeli parliament — known as the Knesset — Dexia had acknowledged arranging loans to seven settlements and three Israeli-controlled regional bodies in the occupied West Bank between 2003 and 2007.
Intal is also incensed by remarks made by former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, now a Dexia chairman, during 2009. While Dehaene confessed that Dexia had provided loans worth 5 million euros ($6.7 million) to settlements in the occupied West Bank, he stressed that loans to Jerusalem were not included in that amount because “Dexia Group feels that Jerusalem is not contested territory.”