Saturday

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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."

EU commission on defensive over 'revolving doors'

The European Commission rubber-stamped over 99 percent requests by officials to take on jobs in the private sector, posing ethical questions in light of known examples where conflicts of interests appear to be clear cut.

Investigation

Violating promises and law, von der Leyen tests patience

Under EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, transparency was supposed to be a "guiding principle". Instead, the European Commission is asking Kafkaesque questions in response to an access to documents request, and failing to meet its legal deadline.

Future of Europe: EU Council urged to propose a chair

Since the German presidency promised the Conference on the Future of Europe would start under their leadership, the European Commission and MEPs hope the event will be launched soon. But there is one issue: who will chair the conference?

Nine-in-ten EU regions face revenue plunge, report finds

The decrease of revenues in 2020 of subnational authorities in France, Germany and Italy alone is estimated to be €30bn for the three countries, a new report by the European Committee of the Regions says.

EU Parliament sticks to demands in budget tussle

The parliament wants €38.5bn extra for key programmes, which is less than their previous request of around €100bn. Negotiations continue on Thursday, but the budget and recovery could still get stuck on the rule-of-law issue.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

EU parliament vows not to cave in to budget pressure

The parliament's majorty dismisses the German EU presidency's proposal on the rule of law conditionality, which has emerged as the main political obstacle to agree on the next long-term EU budget.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us