ISS sells security company in Israeli settlements

31. Jul 2014

The cleaning company ISS has sold its security company that until recently delivered security services to illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

ISS has sold its security company that delivers security services to settlements in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights and West Bank. Kenth Kærhøg, Head of Group Communications in ISS confirms to research center DanWatch.

The security company, a subsidiary of ISS, had 1800 employees and ISS now only has cleaning and catering services left in the illegal settlements on the West Bank.

“All together ISS has less than 20 employees in the Golan Heights and West Bank and we don’t expect to renew the contract with the primary client, a factory in the food industry,” Kenth Kærhøg says.

ISS will not in the future be doing active sales in the settlements, says Kenth Kærhøg.

“The decision is based on a variety of different factors where moral is one of them, as it always is, when we decide where we want to do business”, he explains.

Criticism of security services in settlements

In 2012, DanWatch revealed that ISS had contracts in the settlements in the Golan Heights and the West Bank, whose Israeli ownership is not recognized by the UN or the international community.

ISS has signed the UN Global Compact that outlines a set of ethical guidelines for the conduct of business. In January this year, UN’s Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk, released a new report where he recommended a stop of foreign companies profiting from purchase of products and service and material deliveries to the Israeli settlements.

The privatisation of security in the illegal settlements is an Israeli strategy, states Jeff Halper, leader of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, an organisation with expertise in the infrastructure of the West Bank.
“The private security companies are part of a strategy to lower the Israeli military profile in the West Bank. Part of that process is privatization of all aspects, including security. So whether you are involved in perimeter security or securing private companies, you are a part of normalisation of settlements” says Jeff Halper.

The risks of investments in settlements

ISS’ sale of the security company is according to Kenth Kærhøg “based on several factors”.

“We estimated that our security services had less capacity to be integrated with our other services in Israel than some of our other services had. At the same time we were able to get a good price for it, so thats why we decided to sell”, he explains.

In april this year, another security company, G4S, chose not to renew its contracts with the Israeli penitentiary system, as international critique was sparked after a DanWatch report connected G4S to prisons where torture and imprisonment of children and political imprisonments took place.

On the 3rd of july this year, the Danish government decided to join 16 other countries from the UN in an initiative to inform companies about the economic and reputational risks that comes with activities in the settlements.