Last week, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance revoked the exclusion of the firm Africa Israel Investments Ltd. and its subsidiary Danya Cebus Ltd. from the Norway state pension fund based on Africa Israel’s claim that it is no longer involved in the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
However, The Electronic Intifada has obtained new evidence of Africa Israel’s ongoing involvement in the construction of housing units in the settlement of Gilo in occupied East Jerusalem.
In 2010, the Norway excluded Africa Israel Investments Ltd. and Danya Cebus Ltd. from the state pension fund due to the companies’ involvement in the construction of Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, in the occupied West Bank. The Council on Ethics, an advisory body to the Ministry of Finance, routinely reviews if the basis for the exclusion of a company is still present.
Last April, Africa Israel informed the Council on Ethics that “Africa Israel Investments Ltd. and its subsidiaries have no current construction projects concerning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and at the present have no plans for such activities in the future.”
“When this involvement [in settlement construction] ended, the Council on Ethics recommended in 2013 that the exclusions of [Africa Israel and Danya Cebus] should be revoked. The Ministry of Finance decided to follow these recommendations,” the ministry wrote in a 29 August email to me.
Ongoing involvement in settlement construction
However, occupation profiteer watchdog Who Profits wrote in a 28 August email to me that Africa Israel’s subsidiary Danya Cebus is still involved in the construction of the C-Jerusalem housing project in the settlement of Gilo, in the occupied West Bank. The C-Jerusalem project includes 121 housing units and is located at the crossing of Tsviya ve-Yitzhak Street and Yeffe Rom Street in land occupied by Israel in June 1967.
The video taken by Ta’ayush on the Gilo construction site on 28 August 2013, shows a Danya Cebus flag as well as a white andyellow sign with the Danya Cebus logo and the name Africa Israel.
In addition, this week, Who Profits also obtained information from the sales office at the C-Jerusalem project site. It includes a document signed by Yehudit Segev, a marketing representative of the project, which states (translated from Hebrew):
It should be mentioned that C-Jerusalem project has all the necessary approvals and construction permits required by law and that it is in an advanced stage of construction. Danya Cebus Company from Africa Israel Group is in charge on the execution of the construction.
Who Profits further writes in its 28 August email that in May 2012 the marketing representative for the housing project expected the last building of the C-Jerusalem project in Gilo to be ready in May 2014.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem based Judith Ben Avi Real Estate Company has put the first apartments on the market.
It is disturbing that Africa Israel has not mentioned its involvement in the construction of housing units in the settlement neighborhood of Gilo to the Council on Ethics.
The company further has not unequivocally expressed that it will abstain from any settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories or the occupied Golan Heights, which belong to Syria.
The Council on Ethics should reconsider its position because of Africa Israel’s ongoing involvement in Israel’s settlement construction in East Jerusalem, occupied West Bank.
In its advice to the Ministry of Finance, the council states it has not changed its position about the illegality of Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank. It remains of the view that involvement in such activities can constitute a basis for the exclusion of companies from the Norwegian state pension fund.
Yesterday, Aslak Skancke from the Council on Ethics told me by telephone “We have also received the information and we will look into it.”