Hastings and Rye Palestine Solidarity Campaign


Thanks to your efforts East Sussex Pension Fund (ESPF) has been forced to put divestment from companies that profit from Israel's stolen land firmly on its agenda. But it is not enough. We have been looking behind the figures and made some shocking discoveries:

  • ESPF is one of only 3 local government pension funds that invests in Elbit Systems, a company that produces banned weapons used repeatedly to kill and maim civilians in Gaza.

  • The fund has investments in more companies in the United Nations list of companies involved in Israel's illegal settlement economy than any other local government pension fund.

  • It still has more than £111 million invested in companies complicit in Israel's war crimes  Source

  • Thanks to all the emails and letters you wrote to the East Sussex County Council, the fund accepted it has investments in companies that 'operate and profit from stolen land.'
    Source, page 21. And it promised to start divesting from some of these companies. But it gave no timetable for divestment and so far the number of businesses the Fund invests in that are included in the UN's list of companies involved in Israel's illegal settlement economy has increased.

    We demand action, not words!

    It's time to increase the pressure on the Council to divest from companies complicit in Israel's war crimes. In June, 13 people sent questions to the council; in October, this number swelled to 26. Now we need as many of you as possible to email questions, such as the one below.

    Please, as a matter of urgency, send an email to the County Council for the next Full Council meeting. It couldn't be simpler. We have prepared a draft letter you can copy and paste into the body of your email. Or you can email your own question.

    They can't ignore us. The Council must respond to these questions at their next Full Council meeting, being held virtually on Tuesday 1 December, and include both your question and its response in its minutes.

    The deadline for you to email your question is 4pm on Monday 23 November so there's no time to lose.


    Send an email to democratic.services@eastsussex.gov.uk with the following subject line:

    Subject line: 'Question for the 1 December 2020 Full Council meeting.'

    Text: 'Please find below my question for the Full Council meeting on 1 December 2020:'


    Here is a question that can be asked. Feel free to amend or to send any question of your choice that you feel will influence the committee:

    Dear Chair
    Since June this year, there has been a growing number of emails sent to the County Council objecting to the East Sussex Pension Fund's investments in companies complicit in abuses of human rights and violations of international law. These violations relate to Israel's settlements on occupied land which are illegal under international law; the International Criminal Court prosecutor is investigating their construction as a war crime.

    The chair of the Pension Committee has made some helpful comments, stating that Responsible Investment Principles are 'at the heart of all investment decisions and provides increased transparency and monitoring of these investments.' Also, he acknowledged that companies mentioned in the questions 'operate and profit from stolen land.' Any pension fund operating with ethical and responsible principles would surely be divesting from such companies.

    A commitment by the Pension Committee chair indicated that the fund will divest from some of the complicit companies in due course. These companies are included in the United Nations list of companies involved in Israel's illegal settlement economy. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has undertaken a lengthy and extensive process of engagement with these companies. The pension fund has investments in 13 of these companies. They are: Bank Hapoalim, Bezeq, Booking.com, Delek Group, Expedia Group, First International Bank, General Mills, Israel Discount Bank, Mercantile Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Motorola, Paz Oil Company and TripAdvisor. This is far more than any other local government pension fund. The vast majority have no investments in these companies at all.

  • Please will you specify which of the above 13 companies you plan to divest from and provide a timetable for divestment?

    Elbit Systems produces a range of banned weapons including cluster munitions, weaponised white phosphorus and flechette projectiles. It produces the weaponised Hermes 450 and 900 drones. All these weapons have been used repeatedly to target the civilian population in Gaza. The Norwegian state pension fund has divested from Elbit. So have numerous other funds such as Dutch pension giant ABP, Sweden's largest pension fund Första AP-Fonden, Danish bank Danske Bank, AXA, Folksam (Sweden), ABN AMRO and Europe's largest bank HSBC. Norges Bank, the central bank of Norway, excludes Elbit Systems due to 'particularly serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.' There are only 3 local government pension funds with investments in Elbit. This company is clearly regarded as toxic, a company that any pension fund with ethical and 'responsible' policies would keep clear of.

  • Will the Pension Committee confirm that the fund intends to divest from Elbit Systems, and if so, please state when?

  • Could the Pension Committee chair confirm that the Fund's investments in Elbit Systems and the 13 companies named on the UN Human Rights Office list run counter to the Fund's 'Responsible Investment Principles?'

  • Do you accept that, regardless of whether these assets are pooled or held in segregated portfolios, it is the pension fund's obligation, in line with its own 'Responsible Investment Principles,' to ensure that it does not invest in companies operating from stolen land?

  • Do you intend to implement screening and due diligence procedures to ensure that scheme members' money is not used to support the violation of international law relating to other companies not mentioned here?

    Thank you for your time.
    Yours Sincerely,


  • Please BCC your email to info@hastingspalestinecampaign.org so that we know that you've sent it.
  • They will only accept your question if you include your address and phone number, but they won't include these in their minutes.

    Please share this widely on social media.

    The companies we are presently targetting are those included in the United Nations list of companies involved in Israel's illegal settlement economy. Even if/when the Fund divests from these, this will still leave investments remaining in 49 companies complicit in Israel's breaches of international law. Such as £839,378 in Raytheon which produces bunker buster bombs that have been used by Israel to target civilian homes in Gaza; £1.6 million in Lockheed Martin which provides Israel with F-16 fighter jets; and £2.8 million in Thales which produces the armoured Watchkeeper WK 450 Drone. The full list of investments can be found here.

    19 November 2020.

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