Bank Hapoalim BM

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One of Israel's largest banks, which is deeply involved in the expansion of Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

Bank Hapoalim is one of the largest banks in Israel. For decades, it has been facilitating the expansion of Israel's illegal settlement enterprise by routinely providing loans to settlement construction projects. As documented by Who Profits, between 2019 and 2021 alone, the bank granted such loans to multiple construction companies for building thousands of housing units in eleven illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including three neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem.

Bank Hapoalim also finances infrastructure projects in service of Israel's illegal settlements. For example, it led a consortium of financial institutions for financing the expansion of the Jerusalem Light Rail, a rail system that cuts through occupied Palestinian land and connects illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem with the western part of the city. It also financed Superbus's public bus lines that service illegal Israeli settlements throughout the occupied West Bank. In the occupied Golan Heights, the bank financed the construction of an Enlight Renewable Energy wind farm, which services at least five illegal Israeli settlements.

In addition to financing construction, the bank also manages municipal accounts on behalf of illegal Israeli settlement councils. According to Who Profits, it provides financial services to several settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and Golan Heights.

Bank Hapoalim also operates at least seven branches in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and at least one branch in the occupied Golan Heights. The bank routinely provides mortgages to homebuyers in illegal Israeli settlements, facilitating the move of more Israelis there.

This bank was included in the 2020 United Nations database of companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Economic Activism Highlights
  • In March 2022, the Alma Mater Society, a student union at the university of British Columbia, passed a motion demanding that the university divest from nine companies complicit in human rights violations as part of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, including Bank Hapoalim.
  • In March 2019, the Swarthmore Student Government Organization passed a resolution calling on the school and its "Board of Managers to implement a screen on investments in companies in repeated, well-documented, and severe violations of international human rights law in Israel / Palestine," including Bank Hapoalim.
  • In April 2018, the Barnard College Student Government Association passed a referendum calling for the school to divest from eight companies profiting from Israel's occupation of Palestine: Bank Hapoalim, Boeing, Caterpillar, Elbit Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Lockheed Martin.
  • In October 2017, Denmark's third-largest pension fund, Sampension, moved to exclude Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq, and HeidelbergCement from its portfolio due to their investments in illegal Israeli settlement activities.
  • In June 2017, Swedish bank SEB added Bank Hapoalim to its no-buy list. The bank declared that it would remove 40 companies "that violate international standards for the environment, corruption, human rights and labor law" from its funds. It had previously stopped investing in companies involved in nuclear programs and coal production.
  • In January 2016, the Pension Board of the United Methodist Church, one of the largest protestant denominations in the U.S., placed five Israeli banks—Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank—on its divestment list, claiming that they "pose excessive human rights risks."

European financial institutions have taken the lead in targeting Bank Hapoalim for its funding of illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory:

  • In February 2014, Deutsche Bank added Bank Hapoalim to its list of "ethically questionable" investments—shortly after other European banks had done the same—citing involvement in funding illegal Israeli settlements.
  • In February 2014, Luxembourg's national pension fund excluded Bank Hapoalim from its investments over its "association to supporting construction of illegal settlements in occupied territories."
  • In February 2014, Denmark's Dance Bank blacklisted Bank Hapoalim because it "finances construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank."
  • In January 2014, PGGM, the pensions manager of Dutch pension fund PFZW, divested its holdings in five Israeli banks—including Bank Hapoalim—citing their "involvement in the financing of settlements in occupied Palestinian territories."
Unless specified otherwise, the information in this page is valid as of
8 August 2022