International petition campaign sees success, but continues work to stop funding arms manufacturing.
Middle East Monitor | Apr 18, 2019
We welcome this decision from the AXA Group [but] we see it as an insufficient first step towards ending AXA’s complicity, both direct and indirect, in serious violations of international law and human rights.
— Leyla Llarbi, campaigner for SumOfUs
A French insurance firm has divested from Elbit Systems and several Israeli banks following pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and a number of international NGOs.
AXA – a French multinational firm specializing in insurance and financial services – has agreed to partially divest from Elbit Systems, an arms manufacturer which has supplied the Israeli army with weapons to be used against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.
AXA has also agreed to divest from five major Israeli banks – Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, First International Bank of Israel and Israel Discount Bank – which often provide loans to the Israeli arms industry and operate in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements.
The move came after a several-year-long campaign by two NGOs, “SumOfUs” and “Stop Assistance to Israeli Apartheid”, which called on the insurance giant to reassess its investments and complicity in the Israeli occupation.
In April 2018, SumOfUs – an international NGO that seeks to counter the power of big businesses – launched an international petition to support Stop Assistance to Israeli Apartheid’s campaign. The petition garnered more than 140,000 signatures, causing AXA to “quietly reduce” its investments in Elbit Systems and Israeli banks this year.
However, AXA has only partially divested from these organizations. BDS France explains that AXA Investment Managers, a subsidiary of AXA, “sold all its shares in the arms manufacturer [Elbit] on December 31, 2018 and told [BDS France] last week ‘we do not invest in cluster munition producers’.”