31st Oct 2020

Parliament security firm also provides services to Israeli settlements

  • The company has provided security to checkpoints on the separation wall (Photo: Reham Alhelsi)

The security company that services the European Parliament also provides security to Israeli checkpoints and settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, it can be revealed.

Anglo-Danish outfit G4S, the world's largest security firm, has for days now been at the centre of a storm of criticism from politicians in Denmark, including the interior minister, after the company's activities in the Middle East became widely known.

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The firm has provided equipment for Israel in the West Bank and Gaza, including scanning machines at the Bethelehem and Qalandiya checkpoints, and also delivered a security system to settlement police near the colony of Ma'ale Adumim.

The company also offers safety equipment at the checkpoints on the Separation Wall, a barrier Israel says is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks but which is also being built on occupied land in violation of international law. Critics charge Israel of using the fence to annex Palestinian land.

The company has also been sharply criticised for the provision of security services for private operations, including banks and supermarkets in settlements on occupied land, as well as security systems to Ofer Prison, also in Palestinian territory, an Israeli jail used to house political prisoners.

As a result of the controversy in Denmark, which included a decision by the city of Copenhagen to review its investments in the company, on 11 March, the firm announced it would end some of its operations in the area.

The controversy has now spread to the European Parliament after Danish Green MEP Margrete Auken noticed that the firm also provides security to the chamber.

She wrote to the parliament's president, Jerzy Buzek, on Thursday evening, asking him to verify the links with the firm and that if true, that the chamber end its contract with G4S.

The MEP is currently awaiting the chamber's response on the matter.

Speaking to EUobserver, G4S general counsel Soren Lundsberg-Nielsen, said: "We don't deliver services to the settlements per se, but to companies and individuals such as banks and supermarkets."

"As a result of the debate in Denmark and a review of our ethical policy, we found that some contracts [with the prisons and checkpoints] are sufficiently within an ethical grey area."

The company has since begun to end contracts involving the checkpoints and prisons and police stations in the West Bank.

G4S however will continue to provide security services to private companies and homes in settlements however.

"This is not in the grey area," Lundsberg-Nielsen continued. "This is providing security to the public, rather than groups in the West Bank."

In a statement announcing the pull-out from contracts with Israeli authorities, the company said: "The issue of providing services in the West Bank is a complex one. On the one hand measures are said to restrict the free movement of Palestinians and therefore are considered to be a breach of their human rights and on the other, lives have been saved as the trend of suicide bombings has been curtailed."

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