Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

09.20 Al Gore Is Still Optimistic [24:06 video; rather than future Frankenstein governments, how can we better ensure having brilliantly efficient & competent governments?]

09.20 Florence sparks pollution fears after excrement-filled 'hog lagoons' overflow

09.20 EU must end new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 to meet climate targets – report

09.19 Air pollution linked to much greater risk of dementia

09.19 Shell and Exxon's secret 1980s climate change warnings [that capitalists suppressed this for continuing profit is the most unforgivable crime ever]Trump administration rolls back methane pollution rule despite harmful health impacts [continuing in the tradition of stupid capitalism at all costs]

09.18 'I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school' [if your government isn't working, change it!]

09.17 California plans to show the world how to meet the Paris climate target

09.16 Universal healthcare was unthinkable in America, but not any more

09.16 Air pollution particles found in mothers' placentas

09.16 Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?

News Media Matters

09.20 Morning Edition’s Think Tank Sources Lean to the Right

09.19 Taibbi: Bernie Sanders’ Anti-Amazon Bill Is an Indictment of the Media, Too

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

09.18 Voters Are Ready for a Green New Deal. Are Democrats?

09.18 'This Election Is Last Chance to Stop Them': Kudlow Confirms Trump and GOP Ready to Gut Safety Net After Midterms [Yes, there are far too many sociopaths]

09.18 You'll miss Trump one day

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

09.20 Trump Should Be More Worried About the Brennan Dossier

09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]

09.19 ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

09.16 Merchants of Death Profit from the Bombing of Children as a US-Backed War Goes Largely Ignored

Economics, Crony Capitalism

09.16 If Jeff Bezos wants to help low-income people why not just pay them better?

09.16 Central Banks Have Gone Rogue, Putting Us All at Risk

International & Futurism

09.18 Racist rioting in Chemnitz has reopened Germany’s east-west split [We are all mixed-race after 10,000 generations. Helping suffering people makes us feel good, so become their friends instead.]

09.18 'Unconscionable' and 'Appalling': In Affront to Those Fleeing US-Backed Wars and Persecution, Trump Slams Door on Refugees

09.17 For Whom the Climate Bell Tolls

09.17 How to Humanely Solve Europe's Migration Crisis

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Print view: Israeli Banks Profiteering from Occupation
BUSINESS AS USUAL:

Israeli Banks Profiteering from Occupation

by Stephen Lendman
Monday, 8 November 2010
By profiteering from occupation, these banks must be held accountable for financing continued illegal Israeli control. They also perpetuate the Palestinians' unjust conditions.

Wall Street does it. Other Western banks do it. They all exploit markets, often ripping off customers illegally. Why not Israeli banks also in their own back yard, easily in expanding settlements.

The Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) includes 10 feminist organizations and non-affiliated activist women in Israel. Founded in 2000, it advocates "radical social and political change," and is "a leading voice against the occupation, committed to feminist principles of organizing and Jewish-Palestinian partnership in a relentless struggle for a just peace."

In October, it released a report titled, "Financing the Israeli Occupation, The Direct Involvement of Israeli Banks in Illegal Settlement Activity and Control over the Palestinian Banking Market."

Besides stealing Palestinian land, economic interests play a large role in Israel's occupation, including resource control, labor exploitation, and commercial enterprises of all kinds, operating freely and illegally in settlements, banks among them.

Israeli banks profiteer several ways discussed below, but make no mistake. Like in the West, they're predators, especially in Occupied Palestine, permitted to steal and exploit because what say have occupied people. As a result, banks (construction companies, and other commercial enterprises) breach international law as participants in illegal projects, a lucrative profit center they freely exploit.

To encourage migration, Israel offers generous benefits and incentives, most settlements given National Priority Area A status, entitling them to:

  • quality, low-cost housing with subsidized mortgages;
  • free education from age three and extended school days;
  • free transportation to and from schools, and higher teacher salaries to attract qualified ones to move;
  • for industry and agriculture, grants and subsidies, indemnification from EU produce tariffs, significantly lower taxes than inside the Green Line; and
  • larger balancing grants to help settlements cover deficits.

In all aspects of finance, Israel banks are involved, profiteering from an expanding market six ways:

  1. Providing mortgages to homebuyers

    Six large Israeli banks provide them - Bank Hapoalim, Leumi Mortgage Bank (of Bank Leumi), Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Discount Mortgage Bank (of Israel Discount Bank), The First International Bank of Israel (FIBI), and Jerusalem Bank. All offer mortgages in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan, seized from Syria in 1967. By so doing, they actively participate illegally in Israel's occupation.

    Moreover, as lenders, they're also owners until mortgages loans are repaid, and if not, they seize properties in default, making banks sole owners of illegal ones on stolen land, becoming more than ever criminally complicit.

  2. Providing overall settlement financing

    Israeli housing construction projects (in Israeli and the Territories) depend heavily on loans from inception through completion. They're provided under special terms known as "accompaniment agreements" (Heskem Livui). Moreover, they're regulated by the Sale of Apartments Law (Assurance of Investments for Apartment Buyers) and under Bank of Israel management regulations. They're also supervised by the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing.

    These agreements are crucial. Without them, completion of many projects might be jeopardized. Under their provisions, the accompanying bank holds property as collateral until housing units find buyers. Construction companies, in turn, get a reliable source of financing, including credit and guarantees on projects undertaken.

    Prior to an agreement, special bank officers evaluate a project's profitability. If approved, development is monitored from start to finish, and banks also are involved in determining prices for finished properties. In addition, homebuyer payments are deposited in special accounts, exclusively for that purpose, controlled by accompanying banks to manage all related financial transactions.

    In 2008, the Sale of Apartments Law was amended, tightening oversight of accompaniment agreements after fraud was exposed in a case called the Heftziba Affair. It involved one of Israel's largest construction companies - Heftziba.

    Specializing in low-cost housing, it went bankrupt, after which its owner, Boaz Yona, was convicted of fraudulently stealing millions of dollars from unwary clients, without providing promised apartments. As a result, the amended Law requires an appointed Ministry of Construction and Housing commissioner, responsible for the registration and management of accompaniment agreements. The appointee must then submit an annual activity report to the Knesset Finance Committee.

    In practice, however, agreements are privileged information between banks and construction companies, unavailable to the public. As a result, the 2009 report omitted privileged details, making it of little value. CWP appealed to the Ministry of Construction under Israel's Freedom of Information Act. Established by its Freedom of Information Law, it's, in fact, weak legislation, exempting many public agencies from complying, especially on security related issues. As a result, sanctions are seldom imposed, and appeals rarely upheld.

    In response to CWP's effort, the Ministry declined, saying it lacked the requested information, whether or not true. As a result, CWP got what it could from banks and construction companies directly. They, of course, withhold vital details freely if they choose.

  3. Providing financial services to Settlement Authorities

    Like settlements, local and regional councils and municipalities connected to them require financing for infrastructure, other projects, and essential services. Banks provide it for greater profits, including through loans, managing accounts, and other services.

    Loans finance activities and establish enduring relationships, their provisions making banks investors in continued development and settlements growth, producing reliable income streams and greater profits. Overall, hundreds of millions of dollars are involved for projects ranging from a few to up to 99 years duration, supplement by new ones as settlements expand.

  4. Occupied Territory branch banking

    Besides financing, all major commercial banks service private customers through West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan branches - the more settlers, the more customers, and the more branch banks, the more strengthened Israel's settlement project becomes.

    According to Bank of Israel data, 34 branches operate in settlements, providing the same services as throughout Israel, including personal and business accounts, mortgage and other lending, credit cards, and other financial services, all of it profiteering illegally.

  5. Business Lending

    Occupation is profitable, including for many Israeli and international commercial enterprises. They also need financing to grow. Banks provide it. CWP learned that "all Israeli commercial banks provide business loans for companies that are directly and clearly involved in the occupation." In other words, they operate illegally in the settlements, and they know it.

  6. The relationship between Israeli banks and the Palestinian banking market

    By agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), only the shekel, dollar, euro and Jordanian dinar are used. The shekel, in fact, increases the Palestinian economy's subordination to Israel's much larger one.

    The shekel's market share depends on several factors, including taxes, mainly from customs, and the VAT. In addition, most Palestinians with jobs work in settlements, and Israel has a thriving export and import market. The trade balance is illustrative. Of about 20 billion annual shekel transfers, 80% accrue to Israel.

    Moreover, Palestinian banks have no direct access to the shekel clearing house, so must buy services from Israeli banks, mainly Bank Hapoalim and Discount Bank. However, arrangements impose "several limitations and have severe implications on the" cost burden Palestinian banks must bear.

    Under established arrangements, Israeli banks demand collateral deposits of over one billion shekels (over 212 million euros), earning no interest. In addition, they charge high commissions, increasing costs and risks for their Palestinian counterparties. As a result, Palestinian banks incur deficits in the arrangement, impeding their development, and for some their viability.

    Moreover, only some Palestinian banks may transfer shekels to Israeli banks. Newer ones are excluded to obstruct their ability to operate. In addition, the Bank of Israel controls monetary policy, including the amount issued, interest charged, inflation-targeting, foreign currency purchases, and export policies favoring Israel, not Palestine. Overall, Palestinian banks face enormous burdens, unfairly imposed to disadvantage them.

A Final Comment

Nearly all Israeli commercial banks exploit the Territories freely, effecting erasing the Green Line financially and commercially. Israeli and international enterprises are advantaged at the expense of Palestinian ones.

By profiteering from occupation, these banks bear direct responsibility and must "be held accountable for their role in the financing of economic activity which sustains continued Israeli control" illegally. They also perpetuate the Palestinians' enormous burden under "unjust conditions," ones demanding redress.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on November 8, 2010.
 

Public Service Ads: