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Hundreds protest Dutch firm’s divestment from Israel

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside a Dutch finance firm to protest its decision to divest from Israeli banks over their activity in West Bank settlements.

Some 300 protesters gathered Monday in Zeist, a city located 20 miles southeast of Amsterdam, at the headquarters of the PGGM pension administrator, rally organizers said.

PGGM, the country’s second largest pension administrator, announced the divestment from five Israeli banks last week, citing their activities in settlements built by Israel in the West Bank. The Netherlands and the European Union consider the settlements illegal.

Several Dutch politicians have accused PGGM of hypocrisy because the firm invests in Chinese banks that are active in Tibet.

Monday’s protest was organized by Christians for Israel, a Dutch nongovernmental organization.

In a statement, the organization’s executive director, Roger van Oordt, vowed to carry out more protest actions until PGGM reverses its decision. Van Oordt said he found PGGM’s divestment worrisome because “it is already the third Dutch company in a short period of time that is terminating investments in Israel. It is of utmost importance to show that many people disagree before more companies follow their example.”

Last month, the Dutch water company Vitens divested from joint projects with its Israeli counterpart, Mekorot, because of its work in eastern Jerusalem.

In September, the Dutch engineering firm HaskoningDHV pulled out of an infrastructure project in eastern Jerusalem, reportedly under pressure from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, which has stated it has a “policy of discouragement” for Dutch businesses regarding projects in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

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