Scottish Government must cut-off companies profiting from attacks on Palestinians

The Scottish Government must not support companies complicit in the oppression of Palestinians.

Scottish Greens Co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP has called on the First Minister to ban companies that are profiting from the ongoing assault on Gaza or Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestine from receiving public sector contracts and grants.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has published a list of companies that it has identified as linked to Israeli building programmes in the West Bank, land which is internationally recognised as Palestinian but large parts of which are occupied by illegal Israeli settlers.

In November 2023, the Scottish Greens external affairs spokesperson Ross Greer called for the Scottish Government to ban all companies on the list from receiving Scottish Government grants or contracts. The then First Minister, Humza Yousaf, agreed in principle, stating that those profiting from illegal occupations should not be able to profit in Scotland. Seven months later, the Scottish Government has failed to take action.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Patrick Harvie said: “This week the First Minister did give clarity on one issue when he called on the UK government to recognise the state of Palestine and end arms sales to Israel.

“But the same clarity is needed on the Scottish Government’s devolved responsibilities in relation to Israel’s genocidal action against Palestine.

“The United Nations has published a list of around 90 companies which it considers complicit in the illegal settlements which Israel has been constructing on Palestinian territory in the West Bank. 

“Back in November, my colleague Ross Greer asked the former First Minister to agree that these companies should be banned from receiving public grants and contracts here in Scotland, from within the devolved government’s responsibilities. The then First Minister agreed in principle, saying that no company profiting from occupation should profit here in Scotland too.

“It is seven months later, tens of thousands of deaths later, including at least 13,000 children. And in the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and extremists. And yet the Scottish Government has not yet taken this action to ban companies on the UN’s list of complicit companies from receiving grants. 

“So will the First Minister send a very clear signal today, immediately banning these companies from receiving grants and public support from the Scottish Government?

Following the First Minister's response, Mr Harvie called for the Scottish Government's enterprise agency, Scottish Enterprise, to end all financial support for companies that are arming and supporting the Israeli bombardment.

Mr Harvie said: “I strongly agree with every element of what the First Minister has said the UK Government should do, but he has not yet provided clarity on what the Scottish Government should do within its powers.

“I mentioned those companies on the list the UN deems complicit in West Bank settlements, illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and I think the first minister may have been moving on to answer in relation to arms companies which are provided with grants and other forms of financial support by the Scottish Government. 

“The First Minister is right that they do not support the production of munitions with those grants, but that simply isn't enough. If you contribute to building a bigger bomb factory, you don't get to say that you haven't funded the production of the bombs.

“And even since October 7th, Raytheon, BAE Systems and Leonardo have all received eye watering sums from the Scottish Government agency, Scottish Enterprise.

“This is in a time when the world is recoiling in revulsion at the appalling attacks, including the most recent attacks against Palestinians sheltering in Rafah.
“It is shocking and inexplicable that at the same time as the Scottish Government is calling for an end to arms sales, they have directly funded these manufacturers.

“Will the First Minister change this policy immediately?”