Consumer group SumofUs has launched a petition demanding that AXA Insurance divest from Israeli weapons maker Elbit Systems, as it believes providing financing to the firm violates international law.
SumOfUs argues that by financing Elbit Systems, and also by investing in three major Israeli banks that finance Israel’s settlement expansion, AXA is contributing to the suffering of the Palestinian people. In less than 24 hours, the petition has been signed by more than 70 000 people in France and around the world.
Elbit Systems is a major contractor on the construction of the border wall, having been awarded substantial contracts to build and maintain radar and surveillance towers along the Arizona/Sonora border.
“The job of an insurer is to guard families against risks, to their lives and homes. But AXA is endangering Palestinian families both by supporting the manufacture of weapons used against them, and the infrastructure of occupation,” said Leyla Larbi, campaigner at SumofUs said. “These shocking revelations are an embarrassment for AXA which is proud of its commitment to responsible investment, and is already breaking ties with manufacturers of certain weapons. Now it’s time for AXA to announce that it is divesting from Elbit Systems and ending its financing of banks that fund illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine too.”
Activists note that Elbit Systems is accused of providing weapons banned by international conventions, including chemical weapons like white phosphorus, which was used during the deadly offensives against civilians in Gaza in 2009 and 2014. Elbit Systems also participated in building the massive “security wall” project in the occupied Palestinian territories, which the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 is illegal.
Insurance Business reports a statement from AXA in response to the allegations: “The AXA Group has one of the most complete and ambitious responsible investment policies. This policy is published in a transparent manner on our website. In accordance with this policy that we apply rigorously, the AXA Group does not finance, directly or indirectly, the production of weapons banned by the international law. Similarly, AXA does not finance activities nor companies subject to international sanctions. Our investments in the Israeli banks targeted by this campaign represent around 0.004% of the Group’s assets under management and are mainly assets managed for third party clients of our asset management subsidiaries. These investments have absolutely no vocation to finance the expansion of the “disputed territories.”