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Opinion

Sovereign funds ponder Israel positioning

Norway pulls out of West Bank-linked companies; Mubadala and Temasek invest in tech and energy.

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But they are statements, and when the Norwegian fund speaks, people tend to listen.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund took a principled step in May when it excluded two companies from investment because of their involvement in Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Norges Bank Investment Management, which runs the $1.3 trillion Government Pension Fund Global fund, excluded Shapir Engineering and Industry and Mivne Real Estate KD on the advice of the Council on Ethics “due to unacceptable risk that the companies contribute to systematic violations of individuals’ rights in situations of war or conflict,” it said in a statement.

Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, which it captured in 1967 in the Six Day War, are widely considered illegal under international law.

NBIM is a powerful institution; it owns about 1.5% of all listed stocks globally, and tends to generate its own weather patterns in the investment markets.

But its holdings here were relatively small. The recommendation resulted in it divesting $1 million of stocks in Shapir Engineering and $12 million in Mivne, based on holdings at the end of 2020.

Comparison

Global SWF, a data platform tracking sovereign funds, was quick to point out that any symbolic impact the Norwegian decision might have would be put into stark relief by the inflow of capital from the UAE into Israel.

“NBIM’s

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