Hundreds protest Dutch firms Israel divestment

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside a Dutch finance firm to protest its decision to divest from Israeli banks over their activity in West Bank settlements.

Some 300 protesters gathered Jan. 13 in Zeist, 20 miles from Amsterdam, at the headquarters of the pension firm PGGM, rally organizers said.

PGGM, the country’s second largest pension administrator, announced the divestment from five Israeli banks last week, citing their activities in settlements built by Israel in the West Bank. The Netherlands and the European Union consider the settlements illegal.

Several Dutch politicians have accused PGGM of hypocrisy because the firm invests in Chinese banks that are active in Tibet.

The protest was organized by Christians for Israel, a Dutch nongovernmental organization.

Last month, the Dutch water company Vitens divested from joint projects with its Israeli counterpart, Mekorot, because of its work in eastern Jerusalem.

In September, the Dutch engineering firm HaskoningDHV pulled out of an infrastructure project in eastern Jerusalem, reportedly under pressure from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, which has a “policy of discouragement” for Dutch businesses regarding projects in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. — jta