The ASN Dutch bank decided to sell off its holdings in a French company, Veolia, participating in the construction of Jerusalem's light rail system. Reasons for ASN’s withdrawal of its shares are because the project “is not in line with the United Nation's demand to stop all support for Israel's settlement activities.”
ASN, a medium-sized bank with 250,000 customers, has deposits totaling two billion euros and investments totaling 900 million euros in 2005. Considering itself an “ethical bank,” ASN is committed to investing only in projects that do not infringe on human or animal rights or that harm the environment.
ASN’s decision was a result of letters from human rights organizations claiming that Veolia violated international law because part of the railway will pass through East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority said rail construction would have “devastating effects” on Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, separating it from the Palestinian-controlled regions of Judea and Samaria.
Even though ASN claims the decision is because of human rights reasons not in line with UN resolutions for Jerusalem, Connex Israel says otherwise.
Connex Israel is the subsidiary of Veolia that holds 5 percent of the CityPass consortium, which is the building line. CityPass won the two billion shekel tender to build the rail line.
Micha Avisar, CEO of Connex Israel stressed that the project is meant to serve all the city's residents, Jewish and Arab alike.