30 May 2018
AP — Israeli banks are helping build West Bank settlements in violation of international law by providing financial services to home buyers and local councils, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published Tuesday.
The report said that bank activities in or with settlements have helped encourage settlement growth and “contribute to rights abuses” against Palestinians.
It added that Israeli banks, and international banks doing business with them, may be engaging in pillage, by acquiring ownership interests in housing projects on seized land.
Because of an Israeli law limiting the amount of money developers can collect from buyers in advance, banks often become direct partners in settlement projects, Human Rights Watch says.
“Most Israeli banks finance or ‘accompany’ construction projects in the settlements by becoming partners in settlement expansion, supervising each stage of construction, holding the buyers’ money in escrow, and taking ownership of the project in case of default by the construction company,” the report said.
Israel captured the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. West Bank settlements are now home to around 400,000 Israelis.
An additional 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in a move that is not recognized internationally. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
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