No official statement has been released, but an unofficial source told Al Jazeera that despite the company’s nonpartisan position on world politics, they wish to observe "international human rights principles."
HSBC had nearly US$4 million invested in the arms manufacturer, which produces military and civil-use equipment such as artillery, weapon control systems and unmanned aerial vehicles, according to a 2017 study by the activist group War on Want.
The study also noted that HSBC invested another US$1,050 billion in companies that provide equipment to the Israeli military. Elbit Systems also has arms and surveillance contracts with the British Royal Air Force, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency along the U.S.-Mexican border.
A petition of over 24,000 signatures, as well as dozens of small demonstrations, alerted HSBC officials to the human rights controversy.
By cutting financial support to its Israeli arms partner, HSBC took a “positive first step” in the fight for rights, but it still has a long way to go, said Ryvka Barnard, senior campaigner of War on Want, which is part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.
“Doing business with companies like Elbit means profiting from violence and human rights violation, which is both immoral and a contravention of international law, " Barnard said.
"HSBC continues to do business with over a dozen companies selling military equipment and technology used in human rights violations, including Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are used in demolition of Palestinian homes and properties, and BAE Systems, whose weapons are used in war crimes by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other repressive regimes."