Towards Peace in Palestine - Ensuring Your Money Isn’t Funding Israel’s Illegal Settlements

27th Nov. 2023

The heartbreaking images of the bombardment of Gaza, have focused international attention on the continued crisis. At its heart is the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and the expansion of Israeli settlements. Though it may seem far removed from Aotearoa New Zealand, we are not powerless. We can raise our voices to advocate for a fair resolution.

The images of dead and injured civilians, people taken hostage and detained, or pulled from the wreckage in Gaza is horrifying. So too is the notion that the generations-long violence in Gaza, across Palestine and beyond has no end in sight.

We often feel like a small group of islands at the bottom of the world. But we have always been bigger than that. Now we need to raise our voices to build pressure for a just solution. One way to do that is to ensure that our money is not invested in companies that play a direct role in causing suffering and displacement of Palestinian civilians. Our targeted approach focuses on companies supporting illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, not all Israeli companies.

Your KiwiSaver fund could be part of the solution.

Historical Injustices and a Path Towards an Enduring Solution 

For over half a century the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip has been under occupation by the Israeli government. Millions of Palestinians have been under occupation and denied their human rights and right to self determination. There will be no peace while long-standing injustices are not addressed. 

The role of the international community is essential to build a long term solution. The New Zealand government has played a role in trying to do so. During their tenure on the Security Council in 2015 and 2016, achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine dispute was a focus of its work. New Zealand co-sponsored resolution 2334 which was passed by 14 votes to zero, with the United States abstaining.

The resolution stated that Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territories constituted a “flagrant violation” of international law and had “no legal validity”. However, since then Israel has continued to build and fortify illegal settlements, displacing local people, depriving them of their land and access to water, and imposing draconian travel restrictions.

In 2021, Human Rights watch released a report asserting that the “systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts,” ultimately “amount to the crime of apartheid.” This was reaffirmed by Amnesty International in 2022. 

Speaking on her perspective of a road to peace in the region, PM Helen Clarke, speaking as a member of the Council of Elders, said;

“We need to get into a space where we can start addressing the root cause, which is the denial of Palestinian Statehood.”

Your Investment Counts

The illegal settlements are supported by the Israeli military and government, but also by profit-making Israeli and global companies. In turn, these companies are supported by international investment, including from New Zealand KiwiSaver and managed investment funds. 

Mindful Money is calling for New Zealanders to put pressure on these companies to withdraw from the illegal settlements. 

Mindful Money organised a meeting on 20th November with Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in occupied Palestinian territories, to provide information to New Zealand investment fund providers.

She called on the fund managers to avoid investing in companies that were supporting the Israeli settlements on Palestinian territories. She pointed out that the investors in KiwiSaver and other funds do not want to see their funds invested in these companies.  

UN Human Rights Council
A broad list of companies that support the settlements has been developed by the UN Human Rights Council, and updated to June 2023. These include companies with a more indirect role in supporting the settlements, such as Air BNB and Expedia. 

Mindful Money’s analysis reveals that there are 416 KiwiSaver and investment funds (out of around 800) that have investments in these companies. The total invested as of end March 2023 was $186 million. While this is a small proportion of the total KiwiSaver and managed funds investment (around $160 billion), it still amounts to significant support. Mindful Money has written to those fund managers with holdings in these companies calling on them to divest or ensure that the company withdraws.

Is your money supporting Israeli Settlements in occupied Palestinian territories?

Mindful Money is a charity aiming to make money a force for good. We use radical transparency to encourage New Zealand investors to take control of what their investments support, avoiding investing in harmful companies and seeking to invest in positive outcomes. Our website analyses the companies held by all 350 KiwiSaver funds and 450 managed investment funds, and provides easy and free access to the information. 

We have identified the specific funds that invest in companies that profit from supporting the illegal settlements. The information is available for anyone to see for free on Mindful Money’s website by using the Fund Checker (see “What you can do” below). 

The companies identified on the Mindful Money website are those with direct activities in extending and maintaining the settlements, including construction, financing, surveillance and weapons production.

The companies are:

  • Africa-Israel Investments
  • Africa-Israel Properties
  • Ashtrom Group Ltd
  • Bank Hapoalim B.M.
  • Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.
  • Caterpillar, Inc.
  • Cognyte Software
  • Danya Cebus Ltd
  • Elbit Systems Ltd
  • Elco Ltd
  • Electra Ltd
  • First International Bank Of Israel
  • First International Bank Of Israel Holdings
  • Israel Discount Bank Ltd.
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Mivne Real Estate Kd Ltd
  • Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd
  • Motorola Solutions Inc
  • Shapir Engineering And Industry Ltd
  • Shikun & Binui Ltd

What You Can Do

Go to the Fund Checker on the Mindful Money website, start typing in the name of your KiwiSaver or investment fund until it comes up, then click on it. If the list of companies does not appear, click on the Fund Details tab next to the graph.

Companies with a pattern of human rights violations are listed in the first block. You can look for the companies active in the illegal Israeli settlements against the list above. They will have a symbol of a tank on the right, like below:

Motorola Solutions Inc 0.20%

The flow of weapons into the Middle East has also exposed civilians, their homes and their services to destruction on an unprecedented scale. In the list of companies of concern, you can also see the investments in your KiwiSaver or investment fund under the weapons category (as well as other categories like fossil fuels). 

If you want to look for a more ethical fund, use the Fund Finder tab to switch your KiwiSaver or make a new investment. It is free to make the change and the website makes it easy to see ethical options.