Financing land grab: the direct involvement of Israeli banks in the Israeli settlement enterprise
Israeli banks provide the financial infrastructure for all the activities of companies, governmental agencies and individuals linked to the continuing occupation of Palestinian land.
The following report focuses on the central role that Israeli banks play in construction and infrastructure projects in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements and in providing loans to regional and local councils of settlements in the West Bank. The findings of this report reveal that all Israeli banks except Dexia Israel provide special loans to construction and infrastructure projects in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, all Israeli banks with no exception provide loans and financial services to local and regional councils of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Israeli banks provide loans, guarantees and credit to various construction firms for the explicit purpose of constructing housing projects in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. The terms of these loans are established in “accompaniment agreements” (heskemey livuy), which are special agreements between the banks and construction companies for financial accompaniment from a project’s first stages to its completion. If the project goes bankrupt, the bank becomes the owner of the property, which is on occupied Palestinian land.
Israeli banks also provide credit to companies that execute infrastructure projects in the West Bank, while holding as collateral the company’s rights in contracts and the company’s rights to receive funds from different Israeli authorities.
In addition, regional and local councils of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank depend on financial services provided by Israeli banks. Such services include opening and managing bank accounts, transferring funds and providing loans. Through these loans, settlement councils can sustain themselves, develop and expand existing settlements, build facilities for the benefit of the settlers and attract more Jewish-Israelis to reside in the occupied territory.
Furthermore, most Israeli banks have several branches in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The different banks operate 33 branches in those settlements, through which they provide financial services to settlers and commercial companies in settlements, thereby enabling the continued maintenance and development of the settlements.
In order to expose the complicity of Israeli banks in maintaining and developing the Israeli settlement enterprise in the occupied West Bank, the Who Profits Research Center has used publically available documents and relevant publications, including official registry records and information published by the banks, local and regional settlement councils and construction companies involved.
Who Profits is dedicated to exposing the most up-to-date information on corporate involvement in the Israeli occupation. Therefore, this report focuses on the most recent examples of the role played by Israeli banks in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements. However, the examples herein are just a drop in the ocean: Israeli banks have been involved in settlement construction projects since the very inception of the settlement enterprise.
It is indisputable that Israeli banks provide the financial foundation for the construction, sustainment and development of settlements. The following report by Who Profits clearly demonstrates that Israeli banks not only provide such services and enable such activities, they are also fully aware of the type of activities for which their financial assistance is being used. Moreover, Israeli banks reap profits from the subordination of the Palestinian financial sector as a captive market.
From a more general perspective, it can be said that all aspects of Israeli control over the occupied Palestinian territory require a financial foundation, and that none of the financial activities conducted by individuals, organizations, government institutions and commercial companies could take place without the active support of the banks mentioned in this report.