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Denmark’s largest bank drops Israeli counterpart over settlements

(JTA) – The largest bank in Denmark added Israel’s Bank Hapoalim to its list of excluded companies over its dealings in the West Bank.

Danske Bank cited its Israeli counterpart’s involvement in “construction activities in conflict with international humanitarian law,” according to the Danish bank’s website, in divesting last month.

In 2010, the bank also used  a reference to Israeli construction in the West Bank to exclude Africa Israel and Danya Cebus. The same year, Danske Bank also divested from the defense contractor Elbit, citing its alleged involvement in “supplying electronic equipment in conflict with human rights norms.”

The bank, Denmark’s largest according to its own publications, has a list of 33 excluded firms, four of which are Israeli.

Israel’s ambassador to Denmark, Arthur Avnon, accused the bank of focusing disproportionately on Israel.

“What they are really doing is playing with politics, and not, as they say, worrying about moral values or violations of international norms,” he was quoted as telling the news site Business.dk.

Several northern European financial institutions have divested from Israeli banks and firms over the past year over what they perceive as illegal activity in the West Bank, including the PGGM pensions administrator in the Netherlands and Norway’s GPFG pension fund.

On Friday, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf reacted to these developments in a statement, saying, “Boycotts directed against Israel are unhelpful, and we oppose them.”

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