Campaigners protest Hackney Council investments in Israeli settlements

The Israeli West Bank barrier. Pic: Cara Houlton

Hackney residents are demanding Hackney Council divest £28m of their Local Government Pension fund which they claim is currently invested in companies complicit in the Israeli expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian territories.

The petition which now has over 55,000 signatures was created last year by Hackney Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

The support for the campaign has risen further following the most recent conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians earlier this month.

Hackney PSC, who campaign for self-determination for the Palestinian people, started the petition after discovering that Hackney Council invested in companies such as Elbit, Israel’s largest arms manufacturer and Caterpillar, who produce the bulldozers used to demolish homes and schools to make way for the settlements.

The petition states: ‘These and other companies are listed by the UN Human Rights Offices as complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.’

Some of these companies that Hackney Council invest in supply the Israeli military with weapons and provide technology and equipment used to maintain checkpoints along the Israeli West Bank barrier, which highly restricts the travel of Palestinians.

PCSs campaign officer for the Local Government Pension Scheme Campaign, Lewis Backon, said: “In Hackney the local constituency Labour Party has passed a notion in support of the campaign and the local Green party has supported the campaign.

“You really are seeing the pressure being racked up on Hackney council to invest more ethically and we do expect members of the pension fund committee to take note, get around the table and start discussing how they can invest more ethically”.

One member who signed the petition commented: “Shocked and disappointed at what I thought was a progressive Labour Council not doing anything about these morally unacceptable investments.”

Hackney Council are yet to comment on the petition or announce their divestment to these companies.

PSC’s aim with the continued support from Hackney residents is that all £28 million of the £1.5 billion pension fund will be divested.

Backon said: “The most sustainable thing Hackney pension fund could do is to start the process of divestment but also implement policies within its investment strategy statement to ensure investments like this can’t be made in the future.”

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