Report: Settlers in uproar over withdrawal of Belgian-French owned bank from West Bank lending operations
Last Wednesday (December 23 2009) Coteret ran a Yediot report on the exit of a the Swedish company, Mult-T-Lock, from a West Bank industrial zone. This morning (December 30 2009) Arutz 7, a right-wing news service, ran a settler-sourced report (full text below) on the withdrawal of Belgian-French owned bank from lending operations to settlement municipalities.
If true, this may be an even more dramatic development, because the bank would be in breach of contract with the Israeli Ministry of Finance. The Israeli project Who Profits apparently initiated the advocacy leading to the Dexia’s decision.
Dexia Israel Bank, which gives loans to Israeli local councils in cooperation with the treasury, informed the Judea and Samaria authorities it was cutting off relations with them
Shlomo Pyotrokovsky, Arutz Sheva [settler news service], December 30
Dexia Israel Bank, which gives Israeli local councils loans in cooperation with the treasury, informed the local authorities in Judea and Samaria it was cutting off relations with them, and asked them to pull their accounts out of the bank.
The bank won a tender Israel issued for providing credit to Israeli local councils, after the state privatized the Bank Otzar Hashilton Hamekomi. Dexia Israel is owned by the French-Belgian Dexia Bank, and the reason for the divestment is a demand by the management of the mother company in France.
The reason for the decision by the French-Belgian bank is pressure from pro-Palestinian organizations, parties, professional unions and others to stop the funding.
Reports say that Dexia’s management decided following the pressures that funding the settlements is against the bank’s ethical code and therefore will be stopped.
The decision by Dexia Israel is especially problematic because in July Dexia and the treasury’s accountant general, Shuki Oren, signed an agreement to give credit to local councils as part of a local council recovery plan in the sum of 274 million shekels.
The balancing grants the councils receive from the state will serve the bank as securities for repayment of the loans at a 5.8% interest rate attached to the index for 10 years, but the councils in Judea and Samaria will apparently not be able to enjoy those terms.
Dexia Israel denied the reports and said the bank was studying granting credit to local councils established by Israeli law in accordance with accepted banking regulations, without any other considerations.
Bentzi Buckstein, a new council member from Kiryat Arba, who exposed the Dexia Bank story, said Judea and Samaria council heads should bravely face the bank and not be intimidated. He said: “If Dexia Bank does not change its decision we should fight against the bank.”
Chairman of the center of regional councils, Shmulik Ripman, tells Arutz Sheva in response, “I am very concerned about Dexia Israel’s behavior towards the Judea and Samaria councils.”
“Most of my own council’s money is no longer with Dexia and if the heads of all the councils act like me maybe the heads of Dexia Bank will come to their senses. A bank operating in Israel can not surrender to Arab and anti-Semitic pressures operating against Israel,” added Ripman.
MK Dr. Michael Ben Ari (National Union) says “the Belgian bank’s harassment of the settlements in Judea and Samaria is a test of Jewish solidarity for the treasury and local government. Surrender to anti-Semitic elements will lead to harassment in Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and, finally, the city of Herzliya.”