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Norway's largest pension fund divests from companies linked to Israeli settlements

KLP divested from shares and company bonds worth at least $95bn, including telecoms giant Motorola
Israeli settlers at the illegal outpost of Eviatar look on as Palestinians from Beita village protest against the settlement (AFP)

Norway's largest pension fund has announced plans to divest its assets from 16 companies linked to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

Among the companies listed by KLP, which manages $95bn worth of assets, were telecoms equipment giant Motorola. 

"Motorola and other companies risk complicity in international law violations in occupied Palestine," KLP said in a statement. 

"Divesting from Motorola Solutions was a very straightforward decision over its surveillance role in the occupied territories."

The pension giant's divestment comes after the UN published a list of 112 companies with activities linked to Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. 

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Israel condemned the UN list, which included companies such as Airbnb, Expedia and Tripadvisor. 

KLP also divested from telecom operators offering services within the West Bank, as they contributed to making the "settlements attractive residential areas".

These include Bezeq, Cellcom Israel, Partner Communications and Altice Europe, the latter delisted from the Amsterdam stock exchange in January. 

Five banks that facilitated and financed the construction of housing in the occupied Palestinian Territories and engineering and construction groups were also divested from by KLP. 

The total amount of shares and company bonds divested by KLP from companies operating in Israeli settlements amounted to $32m.

'Responsibility to respect human rights'

KLP analyst Kiran Aziz emphasised that companies had a "responsibility to respect and protect human rights" in the countries they operated in. 

"Conflict can mean a particularly high risk of human rights violations," Aziz said in a statement. 

"Companies operating in conflict zones must therefore exercise particular caution to avoid involvement in human rights abuses and to protect vulnerable individuals." 

KLP previously divested from the Indian port and logistics group Adani Ports due to its links to the Myanmar military government. 

Last May, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, the largest globally, also excluded companies linked to construction and real estate because of their connections to Israeli settlements. 

Following Israel's illegal annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, at least 700,000 Israelis live in settlements across the occupied Palestinian Territories. 

Settlements are viewed as illegal because they contravene the Geneva Conventions, which deem that an occupying power is barred from transferring its population to areas captured in war.