Somerset vs Elbit: “The Motion Still Stands”

County Hall targetted by ‘anti-Elbit’ protestors

On St Georges Day 2024 Somerset Council voted on a motion to ‘explore all ways of legally evicting Elbit UK or to otherwise dispose of the property’. The property in question is Aztec West in Bristol, obtained by Sedgemoor District Council some years back, despite warnings from investment advisers, and inherited by Somerset County in the Unitary changes. Protestors have targeted not just Somerset Council but all similar properties  that they believe to be associated with the Israeli military action in Gaza which has seen more than 33,000 Palestinians killed. However, despite apologies and withdrawal of some of the wording by Somerset, the motion ‘still stands’.

Protestors at the recent Somerset Council meeting

The original motion, from Labour councillor Brian Smedley and Green councillor Shane Collins, was passed overwhelmingly, after lengthy debate . However, the next day Elbit(UK) protested and Somerset Chief Executive, Duncan Sharkey,  issued an immediate apology removing the part of the motion that alleged Elbit (UK) ‘supplied weapons to the Israeli military’.

Mover of the motion Cllr Brian Smedley (Bridgwater South)  responded “It’s good news that Elbit would like to engage with the Council and clarify what exactly they do and don’t do in terms of  trade with Israel that may or may not be fuelling the historic conflict and current catastrophe. However, the motion still stands and the Council is seeking either eviction or disposal.”

Cllr Shane Collins -Green Party

The motion’s seconder Cllr Shane Collins (Frome East) added “Elbit UK, operate seven locations in the UK and Elbit Systems supply around 85% of their ‘products’ to the IDF. It seems extraordinary that Elbit UK claim they do not supply anything to the IDF. There are currently two aggressive wars involving European countries. Imagine our reaction if a Russian firm was making arms in Somerset ?  We must evict Elbit.”

Somerset Council Property and Investment Sub Committee met on Wednesday 8th May and considered evidence from a recent visit to the Elbit(UK) site in Bristol concerning the nature of the trading. They undertook to consider evidence submitted by other parties. Cllr Brian Smedley who attended the meeting said afterwards “The motion still stands”.

Palestine Action put out a statement calling for the Council to challenge the denials by Elbit saying that “Elbit Systems UK  is wholly owned by its Israeli parent company Elbit Systems Ltd, which, according to Israeli media, provides up to 80% of the Israel military’s land based military equipment and 85% of its military drones. This heinous company and its British operations are one and the same” Full statement here.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade has also provided information to the Council on its research into Elbit saying “Elbit Systems UK in Bristol exported up to £50,000 worth of military equipment to Israel between 2016 and 2022.  Elbit Systems UK more broadly, including its subsidiaries, has certainly exported arms to Israel, and continues to do so (up to at least the most recently released export licence data). Elbit Systems Ltd. itself, the parent company in Israel, is a major supplier of arms to the Israeli military, including 80% of its UAVs, which are used in Gaza and the West Bank of course.” Full statement here.

Labour Councillor Brian Smedley ‘seeking the facts’.

10 Questions for Elbit

Cllr Brian Smedley has submitted 10 test questions for Somerset to ask Elbit UK to ‘establish the facts’.

1. Are Elbit (UK) a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd (Israel)?
Are Elbit Systems Ltd a private Israeli company who are the largest Israeli weapons manufacturers and providers of weapons and military systems to the Israeli Defence Forces and the Israeli Government?
Does Elbit (UK) operate through a series of subsidiaries that provide elements and components of weapons systems to Israel?
Does the commonality of directors of both companies and subsidiaries indicate that despite the formal division between parent company and subsidiary, they could be seen as effectively the same company?
Is it the case that the business structure means that the profits made by Elbit (UK) ,
because it is wholly owned by Elbit Systems Ltd, will flow back to the parent company
and that Elbit Systems (Israel) can effectively exercise control over Elbit (UK) making
whatever changes it wishes?

6. Why did Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely on a recent visit to Elbit (UK) in Bristol say
Elbit is a defence technology company, Israeli, that’s based here in UK, has factories
in Kent and Bristol…. good night vision technologies. Really helpful to all our soldiers
around the world.”? Why would she describe them as “an Israeli company” if they
aren’t? Is it because she was right, and they basically are?

In terms of the ties, the products developed include the Hermes 450 drone which is
marketed by Elbit as “effective, combat proven and reliable” and are therefore
demonstrably “the backbone of the IDF” as described?

Is it true that some 85% of landbased equipment procured by the Israeli military is
provided by Elbit and that this element can fairly be described as a significant contract
to the company”?

Paint sticks, but will the allegations?

9. Does Elbit (UK) refute the existence of export licences, for itself or for its subsidiaries, to Israel for military equipment with the ‘end party’ designated as Elbit (Israel)? And is it the case that once there they no longer have control over the destination and use?
Do you accept that ESUK is using its premises at 600 Aztec West for logistical purposes that enable the parent company to operate in the UK, and for the sharing of innovation and weapons components as part of the Israeli national defence programme?



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Every Cllr is complicit, every single one
18 days ago

1. Elbit’s UAV Engines Limited (UEL) in Shenstone is the manufacturer of the engine that fits into the Hermes 450 – the engine is the heart of this heartless machine of murder, destruction and terror:

2. IAI, Israeli government owned Israeli Aerospace Industries, uses Shenstone made Elbit UEL engines for its line of suicide drones. This was all confirmed in the Bristol Crown Court on 12 Jan 2024 from the mouth of UEL Director and Elbit Systems UK VP of Sales, war criminal Alan Wright.

3. Elbit Systems President and CEO, who is also the director of Elbit Systems UK, has praised and thanked every Elbit employee for their crucial role in the ongoing genocide in Gaza. He conveyed the direct thanks and appreciation from Israel’s genocidal Minister of Defence.

4. Cllr Smedley and Collins have no less blood on their hands for THEIR SUPPORT of the ongoing genocide. Every single day that you don’t kick Elbit out – Elbit murders as it has its personnel embedded with the Israeli army and it is YOU who murder by proxy. There’s no other way of looking at it. 

Val Bannister
Val Bannister
19 days ago

Good one. You’ve seen Elbit news in current Private Eye?

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