UK East Sussex Pension Fund divests funds from Elbit Systems
East Sussex Pension Fund has announced its divestment from Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer.
This follows months of pressure by scheme members and supporters of Palestinian human rights who have lobbied the fund to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law, including Elbit Systems. Since May 2020, campaigners have flooded council meetings with over 60 letters demanding the fund divests from Elbit.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer. It produces a range of weaponry deployed by the Israeli occupation army to murder or maim Palestinians. Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 drones were among Israel’s drones that murdered 164 Palestinian children in Gaza in 2014.
Since PSCs monumental Supreme Court Victory in April 2020, scheme members, their representative trade unions, and supporters of human rights have been lobbying funds to take action and implement adequate screening and due diligence policies to address their complicit investments.
The campaign has been taking strides forward. In its engagement report for Quarter 4 of 2020 the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), which includes the vast majority of LGPS funds and pool companies, began engagement with companies cited on the UN Human Rights Office’s list of business enterprises active in Israel’s illegal settlements, based on stolen Palestinian land.
Campaigners have welcomed ESPF’s exclusion of Elbit Systems but say the fund must go further, to ensure all companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law are excluded from their full portfolio.