Demonstration at AXA's Annual General Meeting with BDS France

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Americas & Asia

April 25, 2018

Activists protest French insurance company's links to Israeli occupation and arms industry

This Wednesday, April 25, SumOfUs campaigners with BDS France and other BDS signatory associations including ATTAC and the UJFP, held a protest outside the annual general meeting of AXA at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, calling for the company to divest from Elbit Systems, an Israeli weapons manufacturer. They also called for AXA to stop investing in three major Israeli banks that finance Israel’s illegal settlement industry.

AXA officials refused to meet with the protestors and receive their petition, which has been signed by 107,000 people, including 10,000 AXA customers.

See the petition here: https://actions.sumofus.org/a/axa-elbit-systems-palestine

See photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sumofus/albums/72157696276965105

Through these investments, AXA is violating its own responsible investment policy, but also its legal obligations under French and International Law. Referring to the current crisis in Gaza, the demonstrators recalled that it was more urgent than ever for AXA to assume its responsibilities regarding its investments.

Indeed, AXA is providing financial support to Elbit Systems, a weapons manufacturer known to have supplied phosphorus shells used by the Israeli army on civilians. The company also contributed to the construction of the "security wall", built in the Palestinian territories and deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice.

Through its investments in Elbit Systems and its financial support to three Israeli banks, all involved in financing settlement, AXA is helping to maintain a violent and illegal system against the Palestinian population.

“Financial institutions and insurance companies like AXA cannot ignore the illegality of Israeli settlements and the daily suffering they cause. Arbitrary confiscation of property, the separation of families, imprisonment of children, and the humiliating and endless checkpoint controls are the daily dehumanizing experiences of Palestinians living under an apartheid regime -- and it is unacceptable,” explained Leyla Larbi, campaigner at SumOfUs.

Until recently AXA has repeated that it  "firmly denies these malevolent accusations", without providing any explanation.

Following the protest, AXA has committed to receive SumOfUS and its BDS France partners to receive the petition and the 107,000 signatures that accompany it, and a mail has been sent to them to this effect. "We hope that this time AXA will follow up on our letter and keep its commitment", commented Leyla Larbi.

Building on previous victories that pushed Orange and Veolia to cut their ties with the colonial industry, plus Amnesty International's renewed call to impose an arms embargo on Israel, SumOfUs and BDS France reiterated their determination to continue this campaign, gathering more than 107,000 people in just a few days.  

Leyla Larbi, SumOfUs campaigner said:

“The job of an insurer is to guard families against risks, to their lives and homes. But AXA is endangering Palestinian families both by supporting the manufacture of weapons used against them, and the infrastructure of occupation. These shocking revelations are an embarrassment for AXA which is proud of its commitment to responsible investment, and is already breaking ties with manufacturers of certain weapons. Now it's time for AXA to announce that it is divesting from Elbit Systems and ending its financing of banks that fund illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine too.”

SumOfUs is a global consumer group that campaigns to hold big corporations accountable. Over 14 million people have taken over 50 million actions worldwide with SumOfUs since it launched.

For more information, or for interview with a SumOfUs spokesperson, please contact Yasmina Dardari at yasmina@unbendablemedia.com.