InÂ a reportÂ published today, the US corporate watchdog SumOfUs documented that the French insurance giant AXA is investing over $91 million in Israelâs five largest banks and Israelâs largest private arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems, all companies directly involved in Israelâs war crimes against the Palestinian people.
A growing global coalition responded to the report findings today by pledging more protests, and launching anÂ online campaignÂ expected to deliver thousands of emails to AXAâs CEO, calling on AXA to respect international law and divest from the complicit Israeli companies.
The new SumOfUs research report,Â âAxa: Financing War Crimesâ, details AXAâs investments in the Israeli banks, which are the backbone of Israelâs illegal settlement enterprise, and in Elbit Systems, which profits from arming Israelâs military. One AXA subsidiary, AXA IM, recentlyÂ divestedÂ from Elbit Systems, but another AXA affiliate, AXA Equitable Holdings, has retained investments in Elbit. In December 2018, HSBCÂ divestedÂ from Elbit Systems, following protests by progressive British organizations.
The SumOfUs report states:
âAs long as these companies support the expansion, construction and maintenance of the illegal Israeli settlements and associated infrastructure, in addition to the unlawful use of armed force against Palestinians, AXAâs investments will make it complicit in serious violations of international law, potentially guilty of French law violation, and definitely in contradiction with its responsible investment policies.â
Imen Habib, coordinator of BDS France, a leading member of the Coalition Stop AXA Assistance to Israeli Apartheid, said:
“Israel can only maintain its regime of occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people through support from governments and companies such as AXA. As long as AXA maintains its investments in these Israeli banks and Elbit Systems, protests by our growing global coalition will intensify. With Israel and the US, with the European Unionâs complicity, plotting to undermine Palestinian rights to justice, freedom and self-determination, itâs even more vital that principled civil society coalitions hold complicit companies such as AXA to account.”
Over the last year, the Coalition to Stop AXA Assistance to Israeli Apartheid, which has grown to include groups in nine countries in Europe and the Arab world, has organized coordinated days of protest outside AXA offices, aÂ protestÂ outside of AXAâs annual meeting in Paris, and other actions.
Alys Samson EstapĂ©, the Palestinian BDS National Committeeâs Europe Coordinator, said:Â
An insurer should protect lives. Instead, AXA is profiting from the destruction of Palestinian lives and livelihoods. Palestinian civil society has called on companies to cut ties of complicity with companies directly involved in Israelâs violations of Palestinian human rights. To meet its obligations to respect international law, AXA must divest, following the lead of investors like theÂ Presbyterian Church USA and the United Methodist Church (UMC), the Dutch pension fundÂ PGGMÂ and theÂ Norwegian,Â LuxembourgÂ andÂ New ZealandÂ governments.
The five Israeli banks that AXA invests in – Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Mizrahi Tefahot, Israel Discount Bank and First International Bank of Israel – all provide âdirect and substantialâ support to the maintenance and development of Israelâs illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, according to reports byÂ Human Rights WatchÂ and the Israeli research organizationÂ Who Profits.
Elbit SystemsÂ has manufactured cluster munitions banned by international law, and white phosphorus shells, both used against Palestinian civilian populations. It also builds drones used to attack Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, and provides technology for Israelâs apartheid wall, ruled a violation of international law.
SumOfUs reported that AXAâs investments in the five Israeli banks and Elbit Systems increased from $66 million in 2018 to $91 million in 2019, despite AXI IMâs divestment from Elbit Systems.