Norway reinstates ban on investing in Leviev’s Africa Israel & Danya Cebus due to settlement construction

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January 30, 2014, New York, NY - Adalah-NY thanks the Norwegian Government for doing the right thing, and reinstating today the ban on investing Norway’s Pension Fund Global in Lev Leviev’s company Africa Israel and its subsidiary Danya Cebus “due to contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem.”

Norway’s decision followed an educational and advocacy campaign by civil society groups. In September 2013, Adalah-NY, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign wrote to Norway’s Council of Ethics documenting Danya Cebus’ ongoing construction of homes in the settlement of Gilo, providing photographic proof of the construction furnished by the Israeli occupation watchdog group Who Profits. The groups called “on Norway’s Ministry of Finance to swiftly re-impose the prohibition on investment in Africa Israel and Danya Cebus. The Electronic Intifada also published the information about the Gilo construction and communicated it to the Council on Ethics. Norwegian People’s Aid and the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (Fagforbundet) have actively worked to encourage the government to reach this decision.

As Norway’s Council on Ethics details in the recommendation that led to today’s Government’s decision, in August 2013, the Norwegian government mistakenly lifted the ban, originally put in place in August 2010, after Africa Israel falsely claimed to Norway’s Council on Ethics in the spring of 2013 that it was no longer building Israeli settlements. The Council on Ethics explained, “In September 2013, the Council on Ethics decided to reconsider the Fund’s investment in AI and DC” after receiving “information that DC is constructing settlements in East Jerusalem.”

In November 2007 Adalah-NY initiated a now six-year campaign calling for a boycott of Lev Leviev’s companies due to their violations of Palestinian rights. In addition to Africa Israel and Danya Cebus, Leviev’s company Leader Management and Development continues to develop the settlement of Zufim on the land of the Palestinian village of Jayyous.

As a result of international boycott campaigns, Oxfam America and UNICEF, along with CARE, the governments of the United Kingdom and Norway, New Zealand’s Superannuation Fund, and Hollywood stars have all sought distance from Leviev’s companies over their human rights record. Leviev’s diamond companies have also been implicated in serious human rights abuses in Angola and questionable business practices in Namibia. In New York City, Leviev’s companies have helped to gentrify neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Now Danya Cebus plans to build high-priced apartments in East Harlem for the company HAP Investments, which aims to reap profits by gentrifying Harlem and Washington Heights.

In December 2013, Adalah-NY and allies organized the seventh annual holiday caroling protest outside of Leviev’s diamond store on Madison Avenue in New York City. Adalah-NY is part of the growing, Palestinian-led international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Modeled on the global boycott movement which helped to bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa, the BDS movement aims to pressure Israel to end its systematic violations of Palestinian rights.