California Public Divest from Israel Act (2010)

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A Public Funds Divest from Israel Act (10-0004) did not qualify for the November 2, 2010 ballot in California as an initiated state statute.

Chris Yatooma of the Israeli Divestiture Forum submitted a request to the Attorney General of California for a ballot title on January 20, 2010. The working title of the proposed initiative is "California Public Divest from Israel Act."

According to Yatooma's submission, "It is the intent of this act to employ the same divestiture and boycott approach used to help bring down the Apartheid Government in South Africa. The United States in general and the state of California in particular should not support the state of Israel as long as it continues to maintain illegal settlements in Palestine and we should, in the same manner the United States supported Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress in its struggle for freedom and equality, support Palestinians in their half-century struggle to form a state free of Israeli control and domination. It's ironic that the Jewish nation, after spending 2,000 years suffering in a world marked by Jewish prejudice, is now engaged in similarly shameful conduct that belies cherished Jewish ideals centered on a common respect for humanity and the rule of law."

A similar measure, the California Investment Funds Prohibited from Investments in Israeli Businesses, has been filed for the state's 2012 ballot.

Ballot label details

Ballot title: Prohibits State Retirement Funds from Investing in Israel. Initiative Statute.

Official summary: Prohibits the Public Employees' Retirement System and State Teachers' Retirement System from investing in companies doing business in Israel. Requires these funds to sell existing investments in companies that continue to do business in Israel. Requires divestment to comply with fiduciary responsibilities. Requires annual reports to the Legislature on divestment from Israel. Excludes investments in companies engaged in humanitarian, health, education, journalistic, religious, or welfare activities or authorized by the federal government to operate in Israel. Lifts prohibition if certain conditions are met.

Estimated fiscal impact: Assuming that provisions of the State Constitution or other factors result in pension systems divesting only a limited portion of their Israeli-related investments, there probably would be little or no change in state and local government pension contributions.

Findings section

The "findings" section of 10-0004 lays out these beliefs of sponsors:

(a) It has been determined that business activities in foreign states such as Israel, which conduct state sponsored terrorism against Palestinians living in territory occupied by Israel since 1949, may materially harm the share value of foreign companies. Shares in these foreign companies may be held in the portfolio of public retirement systems in this state.

(b) Public retirement systems in this state currently invest on behalf of the citizens of California in publicly traded foreign companies that may be at risk due to business ties with foreign states such as Israel.

(c) Excluding companies with business activities in foreign states such as Israel and divesting from public portfolios will help send a clear message that the people of California do not wish to profit from companies that conduct business with Israel.

(d) It is unconscionable for the state of California to invest in foreign companies with business activities benefiting foreign countries such as Israel, which has:

1. Committed egregious violations of human rights against Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
2. Violated International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel is a signatory to, with regard to the transfer and settlement of its own people in land occupied as a result of the 1967 war and which includes the Palestinian West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights.
3. Ignored numerous United Nation S~curity Council and General Assembly Resolutions demanding Israel remove its settlements and end its occupation of Palestine.
4. Maintained a brutal military occupation in Palestine.
5. Sponsored numerous acts of terror against Palestinians and other citizens of the region.
6. Recognized a Jewish right of return to historic Palestine but denies millions of Palestinian Arabs a similar right of return to historic Palestine.

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

Sponsors will have to collect 433,971 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot by August 12, 2010.

External links

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