The Norwegian Pension Fund has announced its decision to divest $6 million from the Israeli firm Elbit Systems. This is an important victory for the BDS movement, and Elbit has been the target of a long campaign.
Elbit Systems is one of the largest Israeli security and defense firms, specializing in military electronics, surveillance systems, UAVs and homeland security systems. The company provides both UAVs and other military technology for Occupation forces as well as security systems for the Wall and settlements.
Stop the Wall worked closely with Norwegian activists on requesting that the Fund divest. In May of 2009 the Council on Ethics, the body responsible for deciding which companies are in violation of the Fund’s code of ethics, were provided with a detailed briefing on the activities of Elbit in Wall construction and the devastation wrecked on Gaza and Lebanon by Occupation forces with the use of Elbit UAVs.
In June, worried by the implications on continued investment in Elbit Systems and other firms profiting from the occupation, representatives from the Council on Ethics visited Palestine to observe the situation on the ground. With Stop the Wall, they visited areas affected by the Wall, including Jayyus village and the ‘Azzun ‘Atma, which is completely fenced in.
Today, the Fund decided on divestment. Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen stated that, “we do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law.” The recommendation sent to the Ministry of Finance names the Wall as the key factor in the divestment decision, specifically citing Elbit’s high-tech surveillance equipment.
The decision to divest from Elbit is another major victory for the BDS movement. It also sets an important precedent for Wall-related divestment, and it is critical that activists build on this victory.