Concluding Statement RTP London 22 November 2010
Public Statement of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine
following the conclusion of the London Session on corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international law
The RTP London Session took place at the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL on 20-21 November 2010.
Over the past two days, the Tribunal heard compelling evidence of corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international law, relating to: the supply of arms; the construction and maintenance of the illegal separation Wall; and in establishing, maintaining and providing services, especially financial, to illegal settlements, all of which have occurred in the context of an illegal occupation of
It is clear from the evidence of witnesses that this conduct is not only morally reprehensible, but also exposes those corporations to legal liability for very serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. What distinguishes the present situation from others in which international action has been called for, is that in this case both Israel and the corporations that are complicit in Israel’s unlawful actions are in clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.
The first session of the Tribunal, held in Barcelona in March 2010, found the EU and EU member
states complicit in Israeli violations of international law, including: the illegal construction of the
Wall in Palestinian territory; systematic building of illegal exclusively Jewish settlements on
occupied Palestinian territory; the illegal blockade on Gaza; and numerous illegal military operations against Palestinian civilians, particularly during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (Dec 2008-Jan 2009), which constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.
This clearly places both Israel and the corporations in a position in which they are undermining
the very integrity and credibility of international law and the institutions that underpin it.
The main questions the jury considered in London were:
1. Which Israeli violations of international law are corporations complicit in?
2. What are the legal consequences of the activities of corporations that aid and abet Israeli violations?
3. What are the remedies available and what are the obligations of states in relation to corporate complicity?
Accordingly, in answering these questions, the Tribunal’s full findings from the London Session,
which will be available at the beginning of December 2010, will both summarise the key evidence
that it heard about corporate complicity and identify specific legal and non-legal consequences and remedies.
The Tribunal has noted the failure of states to take appropriate action to put an end to Israel’s
violations and illegal conduct, despite the requirements of international law, or to hold to account
corporate complicity in Israeli actions, which has prompted civil society to step in and take action to bring about policy changes that respect human rights and international humanitarian law. This
includes a very wide range of actions in support of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and
Corporations play a very decisive role in enabling Israel to commit war crimes and crimes against
humanity. These corporate activities can, and have been, the subject of citizen’s movements that the RTP received evidence about, including boycotts; shareholders holding corporations to account; divestments by pension funds of investments tainted by illegality; and actions that continue to put corporations in the spotlight with the purpose of bringing about change in corporate culture. In the Israeli context, civil society is taking effective action to enforce the law. Therefore, the RTP calls on states to protect the rights of all those who initiate or take such lawful BDS actions. Twelve corporations and the EU were invited to participate in the London session but all declined.
Letters were received from three corporations and the EU, which were entered into evidence. They will be annexed to the Tribunal’s final conclusions of the London session.
The RTP’s conclusions include its findings as to the potential legal liability of several corporations,
including the following:
a) G4S, a multinational British/Danish corporation, supplies scanning equipment and full body
scanners to several military checkpoints in the West Bank, all of which have been built as
part of the Separation Wall, whose route was declared illegal by the ICJ in its Advisory
Opinion of 9 July 2004.
b) Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli multinational, has an intimate and collaborative relationship
with the Israeli military in developing weapons technology first used by the Israeli Army in
its active combat operations, before marketing and selling the technology to countries
worldwide. For example, Elbit supplied the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (otherwise known as
Drones) that were extensively and illegally used in the Gaza conflict. Despite this, the British
Army has recently awarded Elbit a joint contract worth over US$1 billion for the
development of the next generation of UAVs (known as the Watchkeeper programme). The
British corporation UAV Engines Limited, a wholly owned Elbit subsidiary, will produce the
plane’s engines. A serious concern regarding the use of drones relates to their indiscriminate
nature. This is illustrated by the fact that during the Gaza conflict, for every alleged
combatant targeted by drones, there were 10 civilian deaths. The Norwegian Pension Fund
divested from Elbit Systems as a result of this complicity in human rights violations.
c) Caterpillar, based in the US, supply specifically modified military D9 bulldozers to Israel,
which are used in: (i) the demolition of Palestinian homes; (ii) the construction of settlements
and the Wall; and (iii) in urban warfare in the Gaza conflict; in all cases causing civilian
deaths and injuries, and extensive property damage not justified by military necessity.
d) Cement Roadstone Holdings, an Irish multinational corporation, purchased 25% of the Israeli
corporation Mashav Initiative and Development Ltd, which in turn wholly owns Nesher
Israel Cement Enterprises Ltd, which is Israel’s sole cement producer, supplying 75-90% of
all cement in Israel and occupied Palestine. This cement is used, amongst other things, for the
construction of the illegal Separation Wall.
e) Dexia, a Franco-Belgian corporation, finances Israeli settlements in the West Bank via its subsidiary Dexia Israel Public Finance Ltd.
f) Veolia Transport, a French corporation, is involved in the construction of the East Jerusalem light railway, which Veolia is due to operate. Veolia also operates bus services to illegal Israeli settlements.
g) Carmel Agrexco, an Israeli corporation, is an exporter of agricultural produce, including oranges, olives, and avocadoes from the illegal settlements in the West Bank.
The Tribunal heard evidence that G4S, Elbit Systems and Caterpillar all acknowledge and actively boast in their promotional material about the use of their equipment during the Gaza conflict, which unlawfully inflicted loss of life and extensive and serious damage on Palestinian civilians and their property.
Civil claims against the above corporations, brought by victims of their complicity, are possible in the countries where those corporations are domiciled or have a significant presence; and corporations and corporate actors can be subject to criminal prosecution for breach of domestic law (for example, money laundering and/or concealment) and/or for the commission of international crimes, including the pillage of natural resources. In many countries domestic law incorporates international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law. This is without prejudice to universal jurisdiction or the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The full conclusions of the Tribunal’s London Session will provide detailed examples of such potential litigation, and also highlight and encourage civil society/BDS actions that can achieve corporate accountability.
The Tribunal was impressed by the range and depth of the evidence given during the sessions. The Tribunal is extremely grateful for the time, generosity and courage of the witnesses, particularly those that took part at considerable personal risk.
The Russell Tribunal will hold two more sessions in the next two years. The third session in South
Africa will consider the applicability of the crime of apartheid to Israel. After the fourth session, it
will publish its full conclusions.
The jury of the RTP was composed of the following members:
Stéphane Hessel, Ambassador of France, Honorary President of the RTP, France
Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, Northern Ireland
John Dugard, Professor of International law, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human
Rights in the Palestinian Territories, South Africa
Lord Anthony Gifford QC, UK barrister and Jamaican attorney-at-law
Ronald Kasrils, writer and activist, former Government Minister, South Africa
Michael Mansfield, barrister, President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, United
José Antonio Martin Pallin, emeritus judge, Chamber II, Supreme Court, Spain
Cynthia McKinney, former member of the US Congress and 2008 presidential candidate,
Green Party, USA