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Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes the University Superannuation Scheme’s announcement that it will remove investments from companies involved in the production of prohibited weaponry, including cluster munitions, white phosphorous and land mines, as part of measures to remove unethical, and risky, holdings. Both of these have been a part of Israel’s arsenal used to attack the besieged Gaza Strip. Any company found to have been involved in the production of weapons used to target the civilian population of Gaza, or used in Israel’s brutal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, should be subject to immediate divestment by pension funds.

We therefore hope the USS will fulfill its ethical duty and also remove from its portfolio its holdings in Booking.com, Expedia, CEMEX and General Mills, included in the UN’s database of companies active in illegal Israeli settlements, and its holdings in Boeing, Honeywell, Raytheon and Rockwell Collins, who have been involved in the production of equipment sold to the Israeli military. We will be writing to USS asking them to take action.

Pension funds have an ethical duty to ensure they are not complicit in grave violations of human rights. In April 2020 Palestine Solidarity Campaign defeated the UK Government in the Supreme Court, overturning guidance which restricted the ability of local authority pension funds to take ethical investment decisions, including removing investments from companies complicit in Israel’s war crimes. Recent research by PSC has uncovered over £2bn worth of investments in complicit companies, including arms companies, and businesses listed on the UN Human Rights Office’s list of companies active in illegal Israeli settlements, based on stolen Palestinian land. It is now incumbent that the administering authorities of LGPS funds commit to end investments in all complicit companies as a matter of extreme urgency.

It is also incumbent on universities to follow suit. We have been supporting students take action on dozens of campuses lead campaigns to demand their university remove investments in companies complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. Research undertaken by PSC reveals UK universities hold investments worth over £450million in complicit companies. These institutions must listen to academics and students, who are demanding that their university’s commit to divest for justice.