Danske Bank, Denmark's largest bank, decided over the weekend to sever its ties with Israel's Bank Hapoalim, citing "legal and ethical conflicts" with the bank's activities beyond the Green Line.
According to a report on the Israeli news website Walla, Danske Bank added Bank Hapoalim to its list of 33 "excluded companies," in which it cannot or will not invest due to its corporate accountability rules.
The list includes four other Israeli companies: Africa Israel Investments and its construction subsidiary Danya Cebus, defense electronics manufacturer Elbit Systems, and defense contractor Aryt Industries.
The Copenhagen-based bank claimed that its decision was based on Bank Hapoalim's involvement in activities that "breach" international humanitarian law.
A Bank Hapoalim statement said that "Denmark's Danske Bank has no investments, of any kind, with Bank Hapoalim."
The Danish bank's decision followed a similar decision by PGGM, the Netherlands' largest pension fund management company, which last week decided to divest from Israel's five largest banks, saying they either have branches in the West Bank or are involved in financing settlement construction.
Several weeks ago, Sweden's Nordea Bank -- the largest bank in Scandinavia -- asked Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank for clarifications over their activities beyond the Green Line, in what banking experts in Israel defined as a potential pre-divestment move.
According to a Jan. 19 report in the Financial Times, the ABP pension fund -- the world's third-largest -- and two of Europe's biggest investment firms, Scandinavian pension fund Nordea and Norway's DNB Asset Management Group, are also reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks "over concerns that the banks finance illegal Israeli settlements."
Sources in the Israeli banking sector said Saturday that the recent moves were, for the most part, only declarative in nature, and are unlikely to come to fruition.
"Even if we see more of these cases -- and they must be taken seriously because they do indicate a very disconcerting trend -- it seems that the majority of these cases are just attempts to make political statements," one source said.
Meanwhile, Central Bureau of Statistics' data indicated that Israeli exports came to $92.5 billion in 2013, despite the global recession and slumping dollar exchange rates, compared to $60 billion in exports in 2010.
Broken down by blocs, Europe received the largest share of Israel's exports (32 percent), followed by Asia (25%) and the United States (21%).
The main countries receiving Israeli exports were the U.S. ($18.8 billion), Hong Kong ($5.7 billion), Britain ($3.9 billion), Belgium ($3.1 billion), China ($2.9 billion) and India ($2.3 billion).