British bank says it divested from Israeli firm over cluster bombs, not boycott


(JTA) — The London-based bank HSBC clarified that its decision to divest from Israel’s Elbit Systems is a statement against the production of cluster bombs and has nothing to do with the boycott movement against Israel.

“HSBC’s decision to divest from Elbit Systems was not the result of campaigning by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and it is not indicative of support for the movement’s objectives,” Stuart Levey, HSBC’s chief legal officer and group managing director, said in a letter to The Jerusalem Post, the newspaper reported. “HSBC’s decision was based on our long-standing defense policy whereby we do not invest in companies linked to the production or marketing of cluster munitions.”

Elbit rejected the explanation, saying it does not produce cluster bombs. In November, Elbit acquired an Israeli company that has a history of producing cluster bombs. But Elbit’s vice president David Vaknin told The Jerusalem Post that the company “will not be continuing its prior activities with respect to cluster munitions.”

Vaknin told the newspaper that the bank had not contacted his company before it decided to divest, nor had it been in touch with the company since it divested.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a pro-BDS organization in Britain, claimed following the announcement that the bank had succumbed to pressure from the BDS movement against Israel.

The decision came a month after the global vacation rental website Airbnb decided to delist sites in West Bank settlements.

Recommended from JTA