Divestment initiative thrown out in Seattle


A Seattle judge has thrown out a ballot proposal on divesting from companies that do business with Israel.

King County Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez ruled that Initiative 97, which would have compelled Seattle’s retirement board to divest from some companies that do business with Israel, exceeds the scope of power for ballot initiatives.

“The funds in question are pension funds, not city funds. They belong to workers who will need them to retire,” Gonzalez said. “Given that, [I-97] is beyond the scope of the initiative process.”

The initiative, which supporters had been telling residents was a measure to divest from Iraq, had prompted opposition from several Jewish organizations, the mayor and most of Seattle’s city council members.

“This legal victory was possible only because our community came together and united behind the common purpose of defeating I-97,” said Richard Fruchter, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, one of the leading groups opposing the initiative. “Along with leaders in the Jewish community, many Jewish organizations and political leaders, including Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, we demonstrated what is possible when we work together to solve problems.”

Opponents of the measure, which named Caterpillar and Motorola as two of the targeted companies, had filed suit earlier in the summer in an attempt to have the initiative overturned before it reached voters in November.

Signature gatherers, some of them paid by the Seattle-based Divest From War organization, had been working to obtain 18,000 signatures by a Sept. 27 deadline.

(This report was supplied by Jewish Transcript Publications in Seattle.)

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