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Activists disrupt Barclays Bank AGM, call for divestment from Israel arms companies

May 9, 2024 at 12:48 pm

Activists disrupt Barclays Bank AGM on 9 May, 2024 [@PSCupdates/X]

Multiple Palestine and climate groups today disrupted the Barclays AGM in protest of their shares and investments in Israeli arms companies.

Campaigners sent the Barclays annual shareholder meeting into chaos at the SEC, Glasgow, drawing attention to the bank’s large investments in arms companies currently sending weapons to be used to bomb Gaza and fossil fuel and tree-burning corporations.

Organisers from Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Fossil Free London, Extinction Rebellion Glasgow and more disrupted the Barclays AGM throughout proceedings; flying Palestine flags, reading speeches and holding up banners which read ‘Barclays funds bombs and big oil’.

The disruption comes as the death toll of Palestinians in Gaza reaches over 34,000, and UN experts have described the scenes in Gaza as “apocalyptic.

A report released this week found that Barclays now holds over £2 billion ($2.5 billion) in shares of companies whose weapons, components and military technology have been used in violence against Palestinians by Israel. Barclays also provides over £6.1 billion ($7.6 billion) in loans and underwriting to these arms and military technology companies. This includes holding £2.7 million ($3.36 million) in Elbit Systems, which supplies the Israeli military with armoured drones, munitions and artillery weapons used in its attacks in Gaza.

“There can be no business as usual for Barclays while it is bankrolling Israel’s assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and is shamefully complicit in and profiting from a genocide. Rather than heeding voices of conscience, which includes thousands of former customers, it seeks to make more money from the misery, pain and death of Palestinians, “ PSC Director, Ben Jamal, said.

In response to MEMO’s request for comment, Barclays pointed to a Q&A on its website which says “Barclays has been the subject of criticism in relation to Gaza based on two arguments: that Barclays is an investor in these businesses, and that we provide a range of financial services to clients which produce equipment used by the Israeli Defence Force.”

“We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a “shareholder” or “investor” in that sense in relation to these companies.”

With regards to claims it invests in Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems, the global finance company said: “We may hold shares in relation to client driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors. We note also that Elbit is highlighted because campaigners claim it makes cluster bombs. We would cease any relationship with any business where we saw evidence that it manufactures cluster bombs or components.”

READ: Activists slam Barclays for funding arms suppliers amidst Israel military operations in Gaza