Contact: Sylvia Schwarz at 651-485-5269 or Robert Kosuth at 218-724-4800.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS DELIVER PETITION DEMANDING SEC ENFORCE DISCLOSURE RULES ON ISRAEL BONDS
Palestinian rights activists are calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to enforce U.S. law in the sale of Israel Bonds, the latest attempt by human rights groups to ensure the U.S. government is implementing its own policies concerning Israeli actions.
On Tuesday, January 19, 2016 activists from Minnesota Break the Bonds (MN BBC), the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, and US Palestinian Community Network delivered a petition to the SEC signed by more than 6,400 people demanding the agency implement an existing law that requires a seller of securities in the United States disclose all material facts about the security to potential investors.
The petition contends that by failing to disclose to investors that money received from the sale of Israel bonds is used for projects that violate international law, the Development Corporation of Israel (DCI) is withholding facts that would cause a prudent investor to make a different investment decision.
“The US government has a responsibility to enforce US laws. It is longstanding US policy that Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land are illegal and a major obstacle to peace so how can the SEC allow investors to unknowingly invest in these activities?” said Robert Kosuth from MN BBC, which started the petition and has campaigned to have the State of Minnesota dump its multi-million dollar pension fund investment in Israel Bonds.
Money received from the sale of Israel Bonds is deposited into Israel’s pooled General Treasury accounts, which are used to fund projects such as building settlements, illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and constructing the separation wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. The DCI omits these material facts from its prospectuses and only states that the money is used for “general purposes of the state.”
Earlier this month DCI announced that it had surpassed one billion dollars in US sales for the third year running. The largest institutional investors in Israel Bonds in the United States are state and municipal employee retirement funds. MN BBC believes that it is unlikely that any public fund fiduciary who is properly informed of all material facts about the use of Israel Bonds would invest public funds knowing that the money will be used to violate international criminal law.
“Retirement fund managers who purchase securities knowing that the funds will be used to violate international criminal law are in breach of their fiduciary duties,” Robert Kosuth said.
The SEC has not yet responded to the petition.
The Israel Bonds issue is only one example of how the United States fails to clamp down on funding for Israel’s illegal activities. In December Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz detailed how US donors had given settlements more than $220 million in tax-exempt funds over five years. A group of American citizens filed a lawsuit on December 21 against the US Department of Treasury seeking to stop nonprofit groups from sending donations to support settlements and the Israeli army.
“The US government keeps insisting that it seeks peace between Palestinians and Israelis but continues to allow Israel to act with complete impunity. It is long past time for the United States to end its complicity in the denial of Palestinian rights and a major step would be to end the material support Israel receives to continue its policies, support that violates US laws,” said Ramah Kudaimi of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.