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January 16, 2016

U.S. Church Puts Five Israeli Banks on Investment Blacklist

By Barak Ravid

The pension fund for the United Methodist Church has blocked five Israeli banks from its investment portfolio in what it describes as a broad review meant to weed out companies that profit from abuse of human rights.

Senior officials in Israel's Foreign Ministry said they are still examining the decision, but added that Israel will make quiet efforts to convince the leaders of the church to change or soften the measure ahead of the Methodist General Conference in May.

The fund, called the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, excluded Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, according to the pension board's website.

The Israeli bank stock the board sold off was worth a few million dollars in a fund with $20 billion in assets. The fund also sold holdings worth about $5,000 in the Israeli real estate and construction company Shikun & Binui, and barred the company from the pension group's investment portfolio.

For the full article on Haaretz, click here.

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