Over the past month, there have been quite a lot of developments in the Netherlands regarding businesses working with Israeli ones and the uptick of steam over the BDS movement. Recently, a dutch pension fund giant named PGGM made headlines over the decision to end its practices and boycott the five largest Israeli Banks; Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Mizrahi, First International Bank of Israel and Israel Discount Bank over their “illegal actions dealing with Jewish settlements in the West Bank, along with financing building materials of settlements”. This action struck a nerve with the Israeli government, which forced it to recall its Dutch Ambassadors to discuss the situation and where to go from there. This economic boycott clearly deals a severe blow to the Israeli-Netherlands relations, and was another win the BDSers could be proud of.
Enter another Dutch Pension Fund giant ABP, one of Europe’s largest pension funds, announcing that after looking into the same matter, found no reason to end its relationship with three of the Israeli Banks – Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi & Bank Mizrahi. The firm concluded that they “did not act in breach of international laws and regulations”. This announcement deals a great blow to what PGGM announced a few weeks earlier, and to the BDS movement itself. This firm’s announcement is running against the popular public opinion that businesses and institutions need to boycott Israeli ones, which sends a huge message to the international community.
There is a huge double standard with countries’ relations with Israel, so its refreshing to hear a good news from a country that has had similar headlines of boycott over the last year, especially regarding economic relations.