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Protests Erupt Over Dutch Fund’s ‘Occupation Divestment’ Plan

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.

Approximately 300 protesters gathered Monday in Zeist, a city located 20 miles southeast of Amsterdam, at the headquarters of the PGGM pension administrator, which last week announced the divestment from five Israeli banks where PGGM had invested, the rally’s organizers said.

PGGM, the country’s second largest pension administrator, cited those banks’ activities in settlements built by Israel in the West Bank, which the Netherlands and the European Union consider illegal.

The decision exposed PGGM to criticism by several Dutch politicians who accused it of hypocrisy, citing the firm’s ongoing investments in Chinese banks that are active in Tibet.

The protest action Monday was organized by Christians for Israel, a Dutch nongovernmental organization which was established in the Netherlands in 1979.

In a statement, the organization’s executive director, Roger van Oordt, vowed to carry out more protest actions until PGGM reverses its decision. He said he found PGGM’s divestment worrisome because “it is already the third Dutch company in a short period of time that is terminating investments in Israel. It is of utmost importance to show that many people disagree, before more companies follow their example.”

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

In September, the Dutch engineering firm HaskoningDHV pulled out of an infrastructure project in East Jerusalem, reportedly under pressure from the Dutch foreign ministry, which has stated it has a “policy of discouragement” for Dutch businesses regarding projects in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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