Activists with the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC) have officially filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Investments (SBI), demanding that Minnesota divest from Israel’s illegal military occupation activities in Palestine.
This lawsuit was filed despite Governor Mark Dayton’s recent rejection of MN BBC’s demand that the SBI divest from Israel bonds, the campaign stated in a press release sent by email to The Electronic Intifada. The statement continued:
On November 29, 2011, MN BBC, along with 26 other co-plaintiffs, including Palestinian residents of the besieged village of Bil’in in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jewish-Israeli members of the Israeli human rights advocacy group Boycott From Within, served a lawsuit against the SBI demanding that it cancel its Israel Bonds investments. The suit was not formally filed in court at that time in order to permit the SBI an opportunity to resolve MN BBC’s divestment demand without the necessity of court action.
The lawsuit claims that the Board’s investments in Israel Bonds are unlawful according to Minnesota and international law because they help fund Israel’s universally condemned illegal settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Following Governor Dayton’s rejection of the divestment demand, the Executive Committee of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), headquartered in New York, advised all four members of the SBI Board, including Governor Dayton, that the Board was aiding and abetting Israel’s violation of international law, which also violates Minnesota law. The NLG correspondence to each of the four Board members, which was delivered to them on December 13, 2011, is posted at the MN BBC website at http://mn.breakthebonds.org/?p=1597.
In deciding to proceed with the lawsuit, the plaintiffs also considered the murder by Israeli soldiers last Friday of Mustafa Tamimi, a Palestinian resident of Nebi Saleh, one of a growing number of West Bank villages besieged by Israeli settlers. Tamimi was shot point-blank in the face with a high velocity tear gas grenade. Israel buys a portion of its military equipment with the aid of Israel Bonds. MN Break the Bonds Campaign believes that Minnesota should not be investing our state’s money in such atrocities.
The full text (in PDF format) of the MN BBC’s lawsuit can be read by clicking here.
Plaintiffs demand that the SBI divest from Israel Bonds on the basis that monies invested in Israel Bonds are pooled in Israel’s general treasury without restriction on use and that the SBI knows that these pooled funds augment funds that are then used and have been used by Israel to fund activities that violate customary international law. The SBI has refused to divest, in violation of its statutory obligation to act prudently. An actual controversy and dispute of a justiciable nature has therefore arisen between the plaintiffs and defendant.
Activists with MN BBC have been working tirelessly to pressure state lawmakers to divest from Israel bonds. They have initiated public letter-writing campaigns to the Minnesota SBI over the past year, in an effort to flood the capitol building with demands that Minnesota divest from Israel, as well as meetings with SBI representatives in person. Back in March, MN BBC activists met with SBI officials, but said that the state was “unresponsive” to the demands to divest from Israel.
The Electronic Intifada will follow this important lawsuit and provide updates. For more information on the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign, visit their website at http://mn.breakthebonds.org/.