British bank to divest from Israeli arms maker over ‘human rights’ issues


(JTA) — Europe’s largest bank, the London-based HSBC, said it will divest from Israeli defense contractor Elbit over “human rights” issues.

HSBC sources confirmed to the Jerusalem Post that the bank, said to be the seventh largest financial institution in the world, had divested from Elbit, one of Israel’s largest defense companies, the newspaper reported Thursday.

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

HSBC “strongly supports observance of international human rights principles as they apply to business,” a spokesperson told the Post in connection with the divestment. But HSBC does “not take positions on political issues,” the spokesperson added.

Bank sources would not reveal when the divestment would occur, or what percentage of investments were to be divested, the Post report also said.

In a statement posted on its website, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), an pro-BDS organization in Britain, claimed “banking giant HSBC divests from Israeli arms manufacturer following pressure from human rights campaigners,” writing “HSBC confirmed to campaigners that it has fully divested from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, which sells weapons to the Israeli military used in attacks on Palestinians.”

The banking firm HSBC, established in 1865 with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai, had an operating income of almost $15 billion in 2017, according to an annual report released on its website.

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