Israel Summons Norway Envoy to Protest Divestment from Arms Firm

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Amira Hass and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents, and The Associated Press

The director general of the Foreign Ministry, Yossi Gal, on Thursday summoned the Norwegian ambassador to Israel, Jakken Bjørn Lian, to protest Norway’s decision to pull all of its investments from the Israeli arms firm Elbit.

Following the meeting, the Foreign Ministry relayed that, “Israel will consider further steps of protest in the future.”

Norway’s finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, announced at a press conference in Oslo earlier in the day that the divestment was due to Elbit’s involvement in the construction of the West Bank separation fence.

According to a political source in Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry had planned to issue a harsh statement of condemnation immediately after the announcement, but following the meeting with Lian the ministry decided to tone it down.

The explanations for the divestment provided by the Norwegian envoy at the meeting were apparently the reason for the ministry’s moderation of its response.

At the press conference, Halvorsen said the decision was based on the recommendation of Norway’s Ministry of Finance council on ethics, whose role is to ensure that government investments abroad meet ethical guidelines.

“We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law,” said the minister. She said the shares were sold secretly ahead of the announcement.

Elbit manufactures a monitoring system installed on several parts of the separation fence.

The recommendation submitted by the Ministry of Finance council on ethics stated that it considered “the fund’s investment in Elbit to constitute an unacceptable risk of complicity in serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.”

The council is thus referring to a 2004 International Court of Justice ruling, stating that the separation fence represented a breach of international law.

Israel erected the fence following a wave of Palestinian terror attacks at the height of the second intifada; it says the barrier is a necessary measure to stop Palestinian suicide bombers and protect settlers. The Palestinians oppose the fence’s route, saying it is designed to grab land they want for a future state.

Palestinian as well as Israeli anti-occupation groups, aided by Norwegian leftists, have all protested extensively against Norwegian involvement in companies involved in West Bank development and construction over last two years, which have seen an increase in Norway’s investment in Israeli firms.

Norway’s pension fund is invested in 41 different Israeli companies.

A research project by the Coalition of Women for Peace called “Who profits from the occupation” found that almost two thirds of those firms are involved in West Bank construction and development.

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Saudi Arabia to Fast Saturday, August 22, 2009 (A.H. 1430)

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Saudi Press Agency issued a pronouncement by the Saudi Royal Court, saying the Saudi Supreme Court announced that Saturday will be the first day of Ramadan 1430 H.

The royal court said the Supreme Court made the announcement after a special meeting this evening in Taif.

 

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PAKPAC Condemns Attacks on Christians

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

PakistanFlag-1 August 3rd, 2009, Maryland, The Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC) joins all our fellow Pakistani Americans in condemning the recent incidents in Pakistan, when a small but organized group of thugs attacked a village in Gojra, Pakistan and took innocent lives of Christian minority community members and then destroyed their homes. These extremists claimed to commit these inhumane acts and atrocities as a response to an alleged blasphemy of the Holy Qur`an.

PAKPAC asks the Government of Pakistan to arrest the perpetrators of these crimes and extend severe punishment to them for the murder of the innocent people. Punishment to such people should be strong enough to serve as a strong deterrent to anyone in Pakistan who dares to contemplate such actions.

PAKPAC extends condolences to all the faith communities in Pakistan, and ensures them that we support them towards eradicating these hate-based, misguided beasts who go against the very basic teachings of the Qur`an and Islam that they pretend to protect.

We ask the larger society in Pakistan to get seriously involved in a meaningful and focused dialogue to look at how various laws are being abused in stripping the minorities in Pakistan of their rights. We need to enlighten ourselves and the world on how these crimes are against the principles and spirit of the creation of Pakistan and the core essence and teachings of the Quran.

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