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UN rapporteur calls for Britain’s council pension funds to divest from firms linked to Israel’s illegal settlements

THE UN special rapporteur for human rights in Palestine issued an “unprecedented” call today for Britain’s council pension funds to divest from firms complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement project. 

In a letter to all Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) committee chairs, Michael Lynck urged the funds to divest from firms with links to settlements, which are illegal under international law. 

The intervention comes after the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) released new research claiming that LGPS funds still hold a whopping £4.4 billion in firms “complicit in the oppression of Palestinians.” 

These include companies supplying weapons to the Israeli military and firms active in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, campaigners said. 

“Israel continues to expand its settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” the rapporteur’s letter reads. 

“This relentless growth, in defiance of international law, makes it imperative that investors accept their international responsibilities and extricate themselves from any direct and indirect involvement with the settlement economy.”

LGPS funds are being urged to divest from firms listed on the UN database of 112 companies involved in Israeli settlements.

According to PSC’s research, 85 per cent of the LGPS funds which responded to freedom of information requests have holdings in enterprises included in the UN database. 

Mr Lynk warned pension funds that invest in such companies are violating their ethical duties and “entrench an unjust situation.” 

PSC director Ben Jamal said: “The deferred wages of public-sector workers should not be invested in companies aiding Israel’s grave human rights abuses. 

“This intervention from the UN special rapporteur is a significant moment that reinforces the responsibility of Local Government Pension Committees to ensure that funds are not invested in support of human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

The letter follows a week of protests by campaigners targeting 10 pension funds. 

Around 700,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, with every Israeli government giving the green light to expansion since 1967. 

Earlier this year Norway’s largest pension fund KLP divested from 16 firms listed in the UN database over their involvement with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

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