Hapoalim Bank is one of the largest banks in Israel.
The bank provides financing for the construction of housing projects in Israeli settlements in occupied territory. Hapoalim Bank acted as a guarantor and loan maker to major contractors and construction companies who build in the Occupied Territories (e.g. Heftzibah). The bank also acted as a financial underwriter for Hebftziba via IBI. In addition, Hapoalim Bank is a major creditor for Shikun & Binui – Housing and Construction.
Hapoalim Bank finances the Jerusalem light rail project: The bank is a guarantor of the state loans to the companies that built the Light Rail in Jerusalem, which is designed to connect the settlement neighborhoods around Jerusalem with the city center.
The project is run by an ad-hoc conglomerate of companies called Citypass, comprising of: Ashtrom (47.5%), Harel (20%), Israel Infrastructure Fund (27.5%) and Veolia (5%). According to an article (link is external) published in June 2009, "The funding agreement of the project with Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi included raising 280 million Euros in short-term loans and 100 million US dollars in long-term loans. [...] In light of the delays, Citypass asked the banks to increase the line of credit".
The bank provides mortgages for homebuyers in settlements. For example, the bank supplied mortgage for a house in Alfei Menashe in 2010.
Hapoalim Bank provides loans and financial services to local authorities of settlements: The bank operates the account of the settlement regional council of Har Adar, which opened another account for the rehabilitation, maintenance and development of water and sewage systems; the bank operates the account of Katzerin settlement in the Golan Heights.
Hapoalin Bank manages the finances of Clal finance and Jerusalem equity portfolio, companies owned by the settlement of Efrat, along with Leumi Bank.
The Bank operates branches in the following settlements: Ariel, Beitar Illit, Modi'in Illit, Ma'ale Adumim, Pisgat Ze'ev and two branches in East Jerusalem (in Gilo and in Ramot). In addition, the bank operates a branch in Bnei Yehuda in the Golan Heights.
The bank benefits from access to the Palestinian monetary market as a captive market.
Hapoalim Bank also discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel. On 5 June 2013, the Israeli news channel 10 published an investigative report regarding discrimination of Palestinian costumers with an Israeli ID by Hapoalim Bank. According to the article, several Hapoalim branches refused to transfer accounts of Palestinian citizens to branches located in Jewish populated areas.
Hapoalim Bank finances the military city project for the Israeli army in the Negev.
Economic Activism Highlights
- On January 12, 2016, the United Methodist Church’s Pension Board, one of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., placed five Israeli Banks on its divestment list, claiming that these companies “pose excessive human rights risks.” The five banks are Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank.
European financial institutions have taken the lead in targeting Bank Hapoalim for its funding of illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
- Deutsche Bank added Bank Hapoalim to its list of “ethically questionable” investments shortly after other European banks had done so, citing involvement in funding illegal settlements.
- In February 2014, Luxembourg’s national pension fund excluded Bank Hapoalim from its investments over its “association to financing illegal settlements in occupied territories (State of Palestine).”
- Dutch pension fund PFZW divested from Bank Hapoalim in 2014, citing its “involvement in financing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
- Danish Danske Bank blacklisted Bank Hapoalim in 2014 because it “finances construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank.”
- Nordea Bank engaged Bank Hapoalim in 2014, requesting “clarifications regarding their activities in the territories.”