Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that Israeli banks are contributing to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank by providing loans and mortgages for construction there.
The leading rights group released a report on Wednesday saying no Israeli law requires the banks to provide such services for the settlement.
It also said the banks have continued to do so regardless of their human rights obligations.
“Israeli banks are financing settlement construction and facilitating settlement expansion as a matter of choice, not because they are somehow required to do so under domestic law,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
The rights group is urging the banks to extricate themselves from the settlements or face the risk of action from shareholders.
HRW also said that investors should make sure that their business ties are free from settlement-related products or investments.
Israeli banks lend money to settlement councils, home buyers and to companies carrying out construction in the West Bank. Most of Israel’s banks also have branches in settlements.
Under Israeli law, banks are required to accept settlers as customers, meaning they cannot refuse to open account for them. But according to HRW, the banks are not obligated to provide financial banking for construction in the West Bank.