West bank: Norwegian Fund excludes further companies, including Heidelberg cement

The Norwegian insurance company KLP has excluded the company HeidelbergCement (Germany) and Cemex (Mexico) from its investment portfolio. This is due to the illegal exploitation of non-renewable resources in the occupied Palestinian territories. The subsidiaries of HeidelbergCement and Cemex in Israel, Hanson Israel and RMC Group,1  are two of the 11 companies that operate quarries in the area of the West Bank.2 None of these companies are in Palestinian hands.

The legal classification of this resource extraction is complicated: The 4th Hague Convention of 1907 states that non-renewable materials in occupied territories must not be degraded, unless the profits benefit the people who live there3 The companies claim that they employ mainly Palestinian workers4 but 75% of the extracted materials are transferred to Israel or are used in the settlements5 – a clear violation of international humanitarian law, as the Israeli human rights organization “Yesh Din” (dt .: “There is a law”) states6. The organisation has in the past put forward a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court in 2009  for termination of resource extraction.7. The lawyers of Yesh Din compare the approach in sector C of the West Bank, under full Israeli control , with the plunder of conquered lands prior to the introduction of international law. The Palestinian people would be deprived of the opportunity to obtain economic value from their resources.8) In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled that “A region apprehended in fighting is not an open field for economic exploitation.”9

But the Supreme Court rejected the petition of Yesh Din and their recommendation only went so far as to allow no further quarries.10 against this decision, the human rights organization continues to persevere. Renowned Israeli jurists discovered in an amicus curiae brief, that the Supreme Court had misinterpreted the internationally recognized international law.11 The situation is thus legally still in limbo.

Companies are public actors that are subject to international law, particularly the UN standards for accountability of transnational corporations with regard to human rights,12 and must therefore answer for their actions in the occupied territories.  In giving the reasons for the exclusion,  Jeanette Bergan, chairman for Sustainable Investment at KLP, stated “From the perspective of international law, an assessment of this case has proved more difficult than similar assessments with respect to Western Sahara. Nevertheless, the international legal principle that occupation should be temporary has carried the most weight. New exploitation of natural resources in occupied territory offers a strong incentive to prolong a conflict,”.13

  1.  KLP (viewed on 16 June 2015 []
  2. jpost  (visited on 16 June 2015 []
  3. New York Times  (viewed on 16 June 2015 []
  4. i24news (accessed on 16 June 2015 []
  5. http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Mining-in-W-Bank-violates -International-law (viewed on 16 June 2015 []
  6. http: // www.ndr.de / der_ndr / press / releases / pressemeldungndr6609.html (viewed on 16 June 2015 []
  7. Yesh Din (called on June 16, 2015 []
  8. jpost  (called on 16 June 2015 []
  9. New York Times (viewed on 16 June 2015 []
  10. Who Profits (Accessed on 16 June 2015 []
  11. Yesh din  (called on 16 June 2015 []
  12. Antikriegsforum (accessed June 16, 2015 []
  13. KLP (viewed on 16 June 2015 []