- University of Manchester pull millions from companies complicit in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, following years of campaigning by students supported by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
- Manchester pulls its investment from Booking.com, meaning it has no current holdings in companies included in the UN settlements database.
- Manchester also rids itself of CEMEX and Caterpillar shares, both long targeted by human rights campaigners.
In a major victory for student campaigners, the University of Manchester has divested millions from a raft of companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. This includes the university’s previously held investments in Booking.com, one out of 112 companies included in the United Nations Human Rights Office’s database of companies enabling Israel’s illegal settlements, built on stolen Palestinian land.
In addition, the university has divested from Caterpillar, in which it previously held shares worth £772,000. Caterpillar is a long-standing supplier of the Israeli army and provides it with a variety of heavy machinery used to demolish Palestinian homes and structures in the illegally occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The shares, collectively worth nearly £2 million, were sold in the first quarter of 2020, coinciding with the publication of the UN list of companies enabling Israeli settlements in February 2020.
Student campaigners have long called on the University to end its complicit investments. Last year, a coalition of student groups, including the BDS Campaign, Fossil Free Manchester, and Decolonise UoM, came together in multiple protests and events to demand divestment from companies complicit in human rights abuses.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has supported students to establish a network of activists to launch divestment campaigns across UK campuses. In 2019, PSC launched a database identifying more than £450 million of investments held by UK Universities in companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law, a tool which has enabled students to target their campaigning.
Campaigners have called for the university to go further, and remove investments from 2 other companies PSC have identified as complicit, and to sign an apartheid-free pledge, which includes committing to not holding complicit investments in the future.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a key part of the Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights, said:
“We salute student campaigners at the University of Manchester, who have worked long and hard over years for this divestment. We pay tribute to their work and the work of PSC who have provided key support for this campaigning.
“Other institutions must follow suit and end their complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. Divesting from criminal corporations that are maintaining Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid is a legal and moral obligation, not a matter of choice.”
Lewis Backon, Campaigns Officer at Palestine Solidarity Campaign said:
“Over the last few years Palestine Solidarity Campaign has supported students around the UK in launching divestment campaigns on dozens of campuses. This victory demonstrates that these campaigns can win and sever universities’ links with Israeli apartheid. We call on the University of Manchester to go further. They must to commit to divest from all companies complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses, and sign our apartheid-free pledge, so no complicit investments are made in the future.”