“Our globally coordinated campaign has had a real impact,” said Rafeef Ziadah of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in a statement.
“We will continue campaigning until G4S ends all involvement in violations of Palestinian human rights,” Ziadah added.
G4S, the world’s largest security firm, provides services at Israeli military checkpoints along Israel’s wall annexing Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and inside settlements built in violation of international law. It also helps run prisons where Palestinians are tortured, abused and detained without charge.
G4S will sell most of its businesses there to the Israeli private equity company FIMI Opportunity Funds for £88 million ($111 million), but will “retain a presence in Israel through Policity, the flagship national police training centre it owns in partnership with FIMI and infrastructure group Shikun & Binui,” according to the Evening Standard.
In March, G4S announced its plans to “exit a number of businesses” including G4S Israel, US “youth justice services” and UK “children’s services.”
Trade unions in the UK then immediately pushed G4S for more information about the sale, while demanding the company immediately stop working with Israeli bodies that are involved in human rights abuses, such as the Israeli army and the Israel Prison Service.
The Financial Times said at the time that by ending these businesses, the company would be “extracting itself from reputationally damaging work.”
Irish company CRH left Israel’s cement industry in January.
“A domino effect is at play here,” added the BNC’s Ziadah. “Some investment fund managers are recognizing that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from international and Israeli corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s persistent violations of international law.”
G4S claimed its decision to sell most of its business in Israel was for “commercial reasons,” denying it was due to boycott pressure, according to the right-wing Times of Israel on Friday.
Since 2010, G4S has lost contracts worth millions of dollars as a direct result of boycott campaigns.
Palestinian prisoners urged activists to intensify the campaign against G4S in 2012.
Just in the last year, three Jordanian branches of UN agencies – UNICEF, the Refugee Agency and the Project Services agency – ended their G4S contracts, along with the UK’s Labour Party and a Colombia-based international restaurant chain.
The city of Berkeley, California recently passed a resolution to divest from private prison corporations, including G4S.
Student activists around the US have passed countless resolutions to pressure their universities to divest from G4S.
“The BNC is determined to continue its campaign against G4S, in partnership with other justice struggles across the world,” stated Riya Hassan, a BNC coordinator in Europe.
“As in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, BDS pressure against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is making some of the world’s most powerful multinationals realize that profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights is not just unethical and socially-irresponsible. It is downright bad for business as well.”
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