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Saturday, 12 December 2020

Campaigning success as Electronic Warfare Europe arms fair cancelled by Seville City Council


From BDS Movement LINK

Welcome news of the success of international soldiarity

In a press release issued today by the City Council of Seville, the Councilor of Urban Housing, Tourism and Culture, Antonio Muñoz, announced the cancellation of the Electronic Warfare Europe arms fair which was scheduled to take place at the Palace of Exhibitions and Congresses of Fibes in Seville in May 2021.

The same fair had been cancelled in Liverpool, UK, where Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private weapons manufacturer whose arms are regularly used by the Israeli military to kill and maim Palestinian civilians, was a partner. The Liverpool cancellation came after a strong local coalition - Liverpool Against the Electronic Arms Fair, in partnership with Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) - urged Liverpool’s City Council to cancel the unethical event promoting violations of human rights.

Citing the cancellation by Liverpool and predicting negative repercussions for the city, the Seville City Council said the government's decision responds to the "inconvenience of linking the city's image as a major congress venue to a controversial event with national and international repercussions."

The Platform Stop Ferias de Armas celebrated Seville’s cancellation of the arms fair saying:

We do not want to be complicit in the weapons used to repress oppressed peoples such as the Palestinians or the Yemenis. Spanish institutions must not allow arms fairs in their spaces.

They added:

We hope [the Seville] City Council will be consistent and also cancel the Aerospace and Defense Meetings Seville 2021, sponsored by Airbus, a company that profits from war crimes in Yemen.

In a very short period of time, the Platform Stop Feria de Armas en Sevilla, formed by over twenty organizations, had mobilised strong social opposition, sending a letter to the Mayor of Seville, organising a public webinar on militarism, with wide coverage in the mainstream press, and had coordinated with local political parties that also opposed the arms fair.

Speaking for the BDS movement for Palestinian rights that has organized boycott and divestment campaigns against Elbit Systems and other Israeli military companies, Alys Samson Estapé said:

Progressive, anti-war and anti-racist groups are chasing arms fairs out of Europe, first Liverpool and now Seville. There is no place for weapons in our cities. Instead of allowing arms fairs, institutions should end all arms trade with oppressive regimes like Israel, which test their weapons on Palestinians, and then sell them for use in repressing dissent all around the world.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Statement and petition on UK-Israel Military Co-operation Agreement


Last week, it was reported that Israeli Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi virtually met with Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter and signed a joint agreement to “formalise and enhance” military co-operation between the UK and Israel.

The deal is understood to encompass military training, organisational design, as well as cyber, maritime and air warfare.

The co-operation agreement strengthens existing British-Israel military co-operation. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the British Ministry of Defence had bought £46million worth of military equipment from Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer Elbit Systems whose equipment has been used extensively to target the civilian population of Gaza. In addition, Britain exports  large amounts of military equipment to Israel, and has 10 troops in Israel to offer military training.

This enhanced co-operation is deeply disturbing to people of conscience in the UK. The Israeli military violates the basic tenets of international humanitarian law in a variety of ways. This includes through enforcing the belligerent military occupation of Palestinian land, as well as the land, air and naval siege on Gaza.

Moreover, during the last two years, the Israeli military has indiscriminately targeted Palestinian protesters in Gaza, marching for their basic human rights as part of the Great March of Return, killing over 250 and injuring over 30,000.

Indiscriminate military force is how Israel maintains its brutal regime of dispossession, occupation, and subjugation of the Palestinian population.

As a result Palestinian civilian society has repeatedly called for states to enact measures to hold Israel to account under international law, and end the climate of international complicity with Israel’s human rights violations. This includes ending all military-security co-operation with Israel and a ban on arms trade.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign stands with Palestinian civil society, and calls for this deal to be rescinded, alongside the enactment of an immediate two-ways arms embargo until Israel complies with international law, and stops using military force to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people. This is the only way the UK government can discharge its obligation not be complicit in Israel’s ongoing breaches of international law.

TAKE ACTION: Sign our petition calling on the UK to revoke the cooperation agreement, and instead enact a two-way arms embargo. Click here!

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Brent and Harrow cyclists join Big Ride for Palestine

Six supporters of Brent & Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Football Against Apartheid joined the Big Ride for Palestine on Saturday August 1st, cycling from Cricklewood to Parliament Square, with some continuing to East London to complete the 36 or 44 mile distances, representing the lengths of military fencing isolating Gaza from Israel and Egypt. 

Some hardy individuals in the Britain-wide event aim to complete 440 miles - the length of the segregation wall built by the Israelis to take away Palestinian land and isolate Palestinian communities on the West Bank. In order to enter, cyclists made a donation to the Middle East Children's Alliance, which works with young people in Palestine. 

We got a very good reception from passing traffic, with lots of supportive hooting, scooters joining our cavalcade, joining in with our chants and getting selfies. Viva Palestina!

Sunday, 19 July 2020

End Brent's complicity in human rights abuses in Palestine

In April 2020 PSC defeated the UK govt in Supreme Court overturning regulations that prohibited Local Government Pensions Schemes (LGPSs) from taking ethical decisions including removing investment from companies complicit in Israel’s violation of International Law and Palestinian Human Rights.

Israel can only maintain its grave breaches of International Law and Palestinian Human Rights because of products, equipment and services it receives from a range of companies and financial institutions

These companies either supply the Israeli military, provide technology and equipment for Israel’s infrastructure of illegal military occupation or are active in illegal Israeli settlements based on Palestinian stolen land

Local Govt Pension Schemes invest in 2 ways

  1. Directly by holding shares ways in specific companies
  2. Indirectly through investment funds which holds shares on their behalf. 
  3. Via the London Collective Investment Vehicle (CIV) https://londonciv.org.uk/#

So far, research by PSC has found there are 49 LGPS funds in companies that aid Israel’s breaches of international law

They are worth over £3.5 billion £ 3,582,374,282

London Local Government Pension Schemes

According to research by PSC, so far Brent in comparison with other London Boroughs has the 5th highest amount of investment in companies complicit in the Arms trade.

Brent has investments worth just over 8.5 million

So far with information available the top six London boroughs are.

Hackney £29,463,947 
Camden £19,425,179 
Islington £13,715,000 
Hounslow £13,305,323 
Brent £8,462,308

Brent Local Government Pension Scheme

Top 5 complicit investments

HSBC £4,663,056
HSBC invests over £830million in, and provides financial services worth up to £19billion for, companies arming Israel. These investments include up to £100million worth of shares in the company Caterpillar, who supply the Israeli army with bulldozers which are weaponised and used to demolish Palestinian communities, build Israel’s illegal settlements and apartheid infrastructure including the apartheid wall and military checkpoints. For more info: https://www.palestinecampaign.org/campaigns/stop-arming-israel/

Barclays £1,252,342
Barclays is a British multinational bank and financial services company. Barclays hold approximately £1,167.6 millions of investments in companies that are known to supply the Israeli military. This includes Babcock, BAE and Boeing, Cobham and Rolls Royce. More information available in War on Want’s 2017 ‘Deadly Investments’ report.

BAE Systems £970,233
According to CAAT, “BAE Systems is the world’s fourth largest arms producer. Its portfolio includes fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, missiles and small arms ammunition. It has military customers in over 100 countries. BAE has a workshare agreement with Lockheed Martin producing the US F-35 stealth combat aircraft. Israel, for example, took delivery of its first F-35 in 2016. According to Investigate, a project by the American Friends Service Committee, BAE has worked in cooperation with Lockheed Martin and Rafael to produce and market the naval Protector drone used to maintain the siege of Gaza along the Mediterranean coast.

Smiths Group £316,811
According to CAAT “Smiths Group is a global technology company with five divisions: John Crane, Smiths Medical, Smiths Detection, Smiths Interconnect and Flex-Tek. Smiths Connectors is part of Smiths Interconnect and comprises Hypertac, IDI and Sabritec brands. Products include connectors used in fighting vehicles, unmanned vehicles and avionics systems.” They have applied for a number of military export licences to Israel.

Rolls Royce £294,535
Rolls-Royce is a British manufacturer that produces military aircraft engines, naval engines and cores for nuclear submarines. Despite arms comprising only 26% of its total sales, it is still the world’s 17th largest Arms trade. In 2014, the year of Israel’s arial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza, which killed over 2,200 civilians, nearly a quarter of them children, Rolls-Royce was granted export licenses for engines for military aircrafts to Israel.

Local Action

During the Covid restrictions opportunities for  physical demonstrations, lobbies etc are restricted but we can meeting with other organisations on zoom and use social media to make the case.

We can also communicate with Brent Council's Pensions Sub-Committee over the issue and make alliances with trade unions with members on the Local Government Pensions Scheme.


You can use the template below to write to the Chair of the Brent  Pension Fund Sub-Committee. 
Send to   cllr.shafique.choudhary@brent.gov.uk


These are the Pension Fund Sub-committee members that you may wish to contact:


Most of Brent's investments are now managed by the London Collecive Investment Vehicle (CIV) along with other London boroughs. Therefore a ley part of the campaign is to link with other London PSC groups to exert pressure on the CIV. This is made up of professional investment managers so not directly democratically accountable so some of the pressure has to be on the policies of the CIV, particularly in terms of ethical policies.

The extract below shows where they are currently:

London Collective Investment Vehicle

We recognise that our clients have a fiduciary duty to act in the best long-term interests of their members. To do so properly requires us to recognise that environmental, social and governance issues can positively and negatively impact on the Fund Solutions provided by the Pool which should be considered in our investment strategies and decision-making processes.

Guiding Principles
a)We should set out principles to which we aspire on subjects that all shareholders can agree, for example:
•Human rights
•Human slavery
•Cluster munitions
•Rule of law
•Corporate governance
•Climate change
•Fossil fuel risk

There is risk but also opportunity in holding companies that have weak governance of financially material Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) issues. Thus, the Pool has a policy of risk monitoring and engagement in order to positively influence company behaviour and enhance stakeholder value, influence that would be lost through a divestment approach. The Pool extends this principle of ‘engagement for positive change’ to the due diligence, appointment and monitoring of external fund managers who are at an early stage of developing their Responsible Investment (RI) approach.

As indicated in the DCLG document, the Government’s intention is to issue guidance to authorities to clarify that such considerations should not result in policies which pursue municipal boycotts, divestments and sanctions, other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the Government. Investment policies should not be used to give effect to municipal foreign or munitions policies that run contrary to Government policy. This guidance has since been challenged on legal grounds and is currently under review. The London CIV policy will reflect the Government guidelines when this has been finalised

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Silencing Dissent - Zoom Meeting Monday 18th May

Public Meeting by ZOOM Call Monday 18 May 2020 at 7.30pm
‘Silencing Dissent: Israel’s Role in the Global Business of Repression, the Security State and Surveillance’
Speaker: Chi-Chi Shi - Campaigns Officer for Militarism & Security, War on Want

Israel exports weapons, technologies, training, and techniques of violence and surveillance systems for use by governments and corporations against populations around the world. The expertise on which it relies has been developed through its occupation of Palestine.

Admission ONLY by ticket in advance from www.ticketsource.co.uk/psc-west-london
You will receive full instructions on how to join the Zoom call (by PC, Mac, smartphone, tablet after you have got your ticket.)
Organised by West London Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Palestine Solidarity Campaign defeats UK Government over pensions divestment

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has won a landmark case in the Supreme Court after challenging UK Government rgulations which restrict Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) from divesting contrary to UK foreign and defence policy, thereby limiting the possibility of divestment from companies involved in Israel’s human rights violations.

In bringing the legal case, PSC – the UK’s largest organisation campaigning for Palestinian human rights – had raised concerns about threats to freedom of expression, government overreach in local democracy, and the right of pension holders to have a say in the investment and divestment of funds.
In 2016 the Department for Communities and Local Government issued guidance which prohibited Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) from pursuing divestment from foreign nations and UK defence industries. This included a prohibition against disinvestment in companies on the basis that they trade in products produced in the occupied Palestinian territories, for example, even if this was the will of the LGPS members.

In June 2017, PSC brought a Judicial Review challenge which resulted in the Administrative Court ruling that the decision to prohibit LGPS funds from this kind of disinvestment was unlawful. The Court of Appeal then overturned the Administrative Court’s decision at a hearing in May 2018. In November 2018, PSC was granted permission to appeal this judgement at the Supreme Court. It was announced today that the Supreme Court ruled in favour of PSC.

The ruling comes just months after the UK Government announced its intention to introduce legislation to prohibit public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycott divestment or sanctions (BDS) campaigns against foreign countries – a move that was widely condemned by human rights campaigners as an attack on civil liberties.

PSC has asserted that the UK Government’s defeat in the Supreme Court demonstrates the illegitimacy of its attempts to suppress BDS campaigns.

Kamel Hawwash, Chair of  Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: 

“This historic victory represents a major win not just for the campaign for Palestinian rights, but for the fundamental principles of democracy, freedom of expression and justice. The Supreme Court ruling sends a decisive message to the UK Government that they should not be dictating how Local Government Pension Schemes choose to invest their funds, including choosing not to invest in companies complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses. At a time when Israel is continuing to ramp up its oppression of the Palestinian people and its illegal acts, including annexing large swathes of the illegally occupied West Bank, the Government should be acting to uphold international law and defend human rights, not attacking peaceful campaigns which seek to do precisely that. PSC will continue to resist any attempts to suppress BDS activism, and I extend deep thanks to all our members and supporters who have stood by us every step of the way in this legal case. We have shown how powerful this movement is.”

Jamie Potter, Partner in the Public Law and Human Rights team at Bindmans LLP, and solicitor for PSC said: 

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s confirmation that the Government went too far in imposing its political opinions onto the management of the money of LGPS members. LGPS members now have the freedom to pursue their own principles in respect of the role of the arms trade and foreign countries in violations of human rights around the world, when determining how their pension monies are invested.”

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Silencing Dissent: Israel’s Role in The Global Business of Repression, the Security State and Surveillance

Silencing Dissent: Israel’s Role in The Global Business of Repression, the Security State and Surveillance

Speaker: Chi-Chi Shi, Campaigns Officer for Militarism and Security at War on Want, 
focusing on Palestine
Admission is ONLY by ticket purchased in advance (£3, £1 concessions) via Ticket Source 

Israel exports weapons, technologies, training, and techniques of violence and surveillance systems for use by governments and corporations against populations around the world. The expertise on which it relies has been developed through its occupation of Palestine .

When: Tuesday 24 March 2020, Doors open 19:00 hrs , meeting starts prompt at19.15 hrs.
Where: Irish Cultural Centre, 5 Black’s Road, Hammersmith, W6 9DT
(1 minute walk from Hammersmith Tube)

There will be plenty of time for audience Q&A and discussion.

Admission is ONLY by ticket purchased in advance (£3, £1 concessions) via Ticket Source
Event Details
Doors Open at 7:00PM
Starts at 7:15PM