The UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk, has confirmed that Elbit Systems UK, a subsidiary of Israel’s largest arms company, Elbit Systems Ltd., has been forced out of lucrative contracts. Losses in revenue for the Israeli firm could be as high as £280 ($340) million if it is ejected from contracts to deliver training to the British Armed Forces.
Chalk confirmed that Elbit had been kicked out of the £ 160 million ($194) in contract to deliver training for the Dreadnought-class submarine crew. Negotiations are said to be ongoing for their departure from a £ 123 million ($149) Project Selborne navy training contract.
Over the past few years, the headquarters of Elbit Systems UK have been targeted by human rights group, Palestine Action, for their alleged complicity in war crimes committed by Israel. The direct-action group has said that its ongoing campaign against Elbit and bringing to light the brutal reality of its human rights abuses has made the Israeli firm too toxic for UK Armed Forces to be associated with.
These submissions were made by Chalk in Parliament in response to questions by Labour MPs, Chris Evans and Kevan Jones – both associated with the “Labour Friends of Israel” group – and by Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey. Elbit’s removal from these contracts was not in the public domain until these questions were asked. Release of this information further damaged Elbit Systems’ plummeting share prices which, according to Palestine Action, fell 10 per cent over 29 November, and is down 18 per cent through November, as the company posts third quarter losses.
Palestine Action says that loss of these contracts is a huge blow for Elbit and the end of the Israeli firm’s presence in UK may be in sight. “Hundreds of millions of pounds will stop flowing from British taxpayers to the outfitters of Israel’s murderous military – amidst constant pressure of sustained and intensive direct action by Palestine Action,” said the group. “For over two years, Palestine Action has targeted Elbit Systems and its partners with actions that have included breaking into factories and offices, and breaching security in order to impede Elbit’s ability to securely complete its contracts across manufacturing and delivery.”
Andrew Feinstein, arms industry expert and author of “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade”, concurs. “I strongly suspect that they have lost these contracts as a consequence of the Direct Action group Palestine Action having so successfully revealed the brutal reality of Elbit’s gross human rights abuses, especially in enforcing the illegal Occupation of Palestine by Israel,” said Feinstein on twitter.
Feinstein, a member of the African National Congress (ANC), who served under Nelson Mandela, explained that the loss of these contracts is a major crisis for Elbit and raises questions about the future of the controversial company in Britain.
Last week a UK court acquitted five Palestine Action activists of the charge of “conspiracy to commit criminal damage” against Elbit headquarters.