Report of Barclays Picket – Divest from Israel and the arms trade

Over 30 people turned out on Saturday 25th February to demonstrate against Barclays’ investments in the arms trade and in Israeli companies.

The demonstration was called by Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity, Smash EDO and Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign. After demonstrators arrived security guards, clearly fearing a repeat of UK-Uncut style protests, shut the front doors of the bank and would only grant access to customers who were carrying Barclay Cards.

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Barclays is the largest global investor in the arms trade and is the market maker for arms company ITT Exelis.

Barclays is also the only high street bank with significant direct investments in Israeli companies.

The Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) calls for companies to divest from Israeli companies. The call also demands an end to investment in companies profiting from Israel’s occupation. The arms companies, such as BAE Systems, invested in by Barclays fall into this category.

Barclays also hold shares in Unilever, the owner of Beigel and Beigel, who run a manufacturing plant in the Barkan settlement industrial zone in the occupied West Bank.

The bank is also attempting to move in to the Israeli High Street. Barclays has an Israeli HQ and, in 2011, applied to operate branches in Israel. If it is successful Barclays will, like all banks operating in Israel, provide loans to settlers and settler industries.