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  • Conclusions (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    The conclusions are designed to follow the separate fields of this report. One section wraps up the research in specific companies and their Israeli-Dutch connections in relation to the OPT (Chapters I, II and IV). From a different perspective, the next section evaluates the ‘Israeli experience’ and the Netherlands in more general terms, with the drones as an example (Chapter III). The last section of this chapter summarises some ideas on the European perspective, focusing on the role of Dutch companies and institutions in this area (Chapter IV).


    Although in Israel it is not always clearly possible to distinguish the military from the field of homeland security, it is fair to say that when it comes to links between Israel and the Netherlands, the most direct links are between the Ministry of Defence and the Israeli military industry. The Dutch Royal Army is a client of Elbit for complicated electronic devices, and the army contracted Aeronautics to provide replacement material and personnel for the mission in Afghanistan. Thales Netherlands (formerly the Defence company Holland Signaal) cooperates with Rafael, with the Dutch army as its client. Thales seems to function as a production line for Rafael in the Netherlands, which brings up the question of how this joint venture relates to the Dutch policy of following the European guidelines for restricted trade in arms with Israel. As far as links on the homeland security front are concerned, Group4Security and Motorola are the only companies active in this field in both Israel and the Netherlands.

    Several developments over the past few years indicate increasing scope for building pressure through bringing up issues like ethical sourcing and divestment. Banks and Pension funds have divested from Elbit, while other investments in companies with links to Israel are being scrutinised.

    The tender register for military contracts and the annual export policy review of the Ministry of Economic Affairs show that many of the requests for a license for export to Israel have been refused in the past few years. Nevertheless the actual dimension of military trade between the countries is difficult to assess without in-depth research into transit trade, trade in dual use products and detailed statistics from the Ministry of Defence. It seems, however, that the Dutch authorities in export control are willing to act in accordance to the European guidelines; this can be considered an indication of the available political scope to pressure the MoD to redefine its relation with Elbit.

    An instrument to increase such pressure is the programme of sustainable sourcing the government has adopted recently. Since January 2010, government procurement at all levels is designated by environmental and social criteria. Producers and suppliers have a social responsibility to uphold the criteria in the entire chain of production. The government brochure explaining the new policy includes rules and regulation concerning the natural environment, but also social standards, including workers’ rights and conditions in the entire chain of production. Governmental bodies are explicitly asked to include these standards in their procurement policy, within a framework of reference provided by the Universal Convention for Human Rights and related treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Dutch acronyms BuPo and Esocul respectively).

    The new guidelines make the supplier responsible for the sustainability of his merchandise. A (potential) trade partner to public authorities and services is required to prove that he tried the best he could to deliver according to the environmental and social standards. The first recommendation in the Ministry’s guidance brochure is to question the chain of production by collecting information from NGOs and other researchers. This new policy on sustainable sourcing (‘duurzaam inkopen’ in Dutch) offers opportunities to hold to account the Dutch police or Ministries in regards to their procurement practices. The implementation of the new policy within the Ministry of Defence and the army has been focused on environmental and energy issues so far, which were to be finished in 2010. According to the Defence Sustainability Report 2009 – 2012 this was difficult enough because the environmental criteria often clash with operational and security requirements. As from 2011, the new policy expects the social standards to be implemented too. This could be understood as an opportunity to develop policies in that area as well; for example, to suggest that the Ministry of Defence redefine its relationship to Elbit.

    For putting pressure on companies directly, the United Nations UN Global Compact offers a useful framework, as does the policy developed by Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, John Ruggie.

    Under the UN Global Compact programme, multinational companies voluntarily assign themselves to ten principles. The first two are devoted to keeping up human rights standards:

    Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights;

    Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

    The Global Compact programme emphasises the joint responsibility which includes headquarters and subsidiaries:

    “A company’s commitment to join the Global Compact applies to all its subsidiaries and local branches, and it is important that this commitment is spread throughout the company’s operations around the world.”

    Although the programme is voluntary, it opens avenues for building pressure. Several branches of Siemens and the headquarters of Hewlett-Packard have signed the Global Compact. Their accountability reports could be challenged in the context of their involvement in the OPT. Motorola did not sign up, but enhanced its company profile with a wide range of CSR activities. Back in 1998, the company developed a case-study to raise awareness of ethical dilemmas and to consider possible ways of addressing them. The fictional case discussed the abuse of telecommunication technology to facilitate the arrest and ill-treatment of people opposing an oppressive regime. According to the Global Compact website where this case features as one of the dilemmas of ‘product misuse’, it was developed on the basis of a real-world dilemma situation that a telecommunications company, like Motorola, had experienced. Since Motorola equipped the IDF with a nationwide military encrypted cellular network and is rumoured to block access to mobile networks in the OPT during IDF military strikes, the company’s 1998 case study could be evaluated against more recent real events.

    After the Global Compact was launched in 2000, its initiator John Ruggie was appointed UN Special Representative in 2005 and continued to develop the concept. His framework on business & human rights was unanimously approved by the Human Rights Council in 2008. The ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework rests on three pillars, each of which offer opportunities to build pressure:

    1. the state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business;
    2. the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and
    3. greater access by victims to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial.

    When Ruggie first launched his ideas, Ruud Lubbers suggested the introduction of the right to a clean environment and to introduce legal opportunities for victims of human rights violations caused by transnational companies. In an opinion editorial in NRC Handelsblad in June 2009, he stated that the case of the relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa against Shell regarding the company’s collusion with the Nigerian military should have been settled in the Netherlands. Amongst those joining the discussion was a former Advocate General of the Dutch Supreme Court, who was in support of Lubbers’ views.

    The government appeared open to the idea, as they had already commissioned advice on related issues from the University of Leiden. In December 2009 the court in The Hague formerly accepted the case of Nigerian farmers and Milieudefensie against Shell, claiming compensation for the environmental damages caused by the oil company in the Niger Delta. The case can be considered one of the first in which the mother company is held to account for activities of its subsidiaries in the Netherlands. The prosecution of Riwal for the involvement of its Israeli subsidiary in supporting the occupation of the Palestinian Territories is another example of creating opportunities for effective remedy for victims, as proposed by the UN.

    On 22 November 2010, Special Representative Ruggie proposed draft “Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework”. The consulting of stakeholders finished recently, on 31 January 2011. The Business and Human Rights website contains several examples of early applications of the framework.


    Israeli mercenaries contracted by the Dutch army on a mission in Afghanistan

    In Chapter III of this report, the focus was on the ‘Israeli experience’; the expansion of drones from military to civilian use served as an example. The chapter also highlighted Project Lintel, explaining how the Dutch army contracted Aeronautics to fulfil an essential part of the mission in Afghanistan.

    Project Lintel marks the exploration of a new market for Israeli military companies: leasing UAVs in war situations as well as the personnel to deploy them. When Project Lintel was discussed in the Dutch Parliament, the Minister of Defence was challenged about the outsourcing of intelligence and combat operations to contractors and mercenaries. The issue of involving Israelis remained untouched.

    Contracting out of military tasks is a relatively new development for which there are as yet no regulations in Dutch law. The advice the Dutch government acquired from the Advice Council for International Affairs can be regarded as a first step towards formulating a policy on this matter. The advice dealt with the issue of the tasks that could be outsourced, and addressed the so-called accountability gap. The Dutch forces in Afghanistan have no extraterritorial jurisdiction over contractors with a third nationality, say, South Africans or Israelis. The Council warned of the inherent impunity for violations of human rights and other war crimes, and problems arising concerning the legal responsibility of the hiring state. The Council called for a broad and thorough debate on the political, legal and ethical issues surrounding contracting private military companies.

    As the issue of policy-making on contracting out is relatively unexplored, the field offers opportunities for civil society groups to contribute to the debate. There is a case to make to exclude Israeli companies from contracts with the Royal Dutch Army or Dutch authorities in general. This would be in line with the official EU policy to restrict military trade with Israel, effectuated since the end of 2002. Answering questions submitted by De Campagne tegen Wapenhandel, the (then) state secretary of Economische Zaken (Trade) Joop Wijn wrote: “In respect to the negative developments in the Mid East, specifically in Israel, the Netherlands like various other EU partners have restricted their export policy for Israel in the past two years. Export licenses will be declined in principle based on criteria two (human rights), three (internal tensions) and four (tensions in the region) [of the European Code of Conduct on Arms Export], as a result of the daily reality in particular on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in particular when it concerns deliveries to the Army’s Ground Forces or Air Force.”

    As contracting out is neither export nor import, policy in this field needs to be made in the spirit of the current regulations. How does the hiring of an Israeli military company by the Ministry of Defence relate to restrictions on military trade with Israel since the end of 2002?

    Project Lintel shows how close Israeli companies are to the Dutch army, and offers an opportunity to hold the Dutch government to account.


    Is the EU strategy successful in bringing peace any closer?

    Chapter IV focussed on links between Israeli and Dutch companies and institutions within the European Union FP7 Security Research programme. The available documentation showed that participation of Israeli companies is not motivated by financial incentives per se, but rather by the urge to get access to the research community and to business opportunities on the long term.

    The relation between the European Union and Israel has become stronger in recent years. Several treaties have been signed to make Israel almost a full partner of the EU. As detailed in the various agreements, the policy of embracing Israel aims to eventually get to a two-state solution. Although the international community is using economic boycotts as a policy (at present against Iran for instance), the fears of alienating the country seem to carry more weight in the case of Israel.

    A campaign to address the strong ties between the EU and Israel would centre on this question: is the EU strategy successful in bringing peace any closer?

    As our research shows, the Israeli authorities are keen to obtain major positions in EU research programmes. The European Security Research programme is only one of them. More than 600 Israeli companies are collaborating with their European counterparts under the FP7 umbrella. In order to address the relationship between the EU and Israel, we would need to map out the programmes that involve Israeli participation, and to outline their role and contribution.

    The aspiration to join the EU research programmes is not fuelled by financial incentives only. The access to research facilities, networks and knowledge is just as important – access that is otherwise limited by Israel’s relatively isolated position in the international community. Just as the Israeli military and homeland security industry are selling arms and surveillance products with the ‘Israeli experience’ as added value, the country’s contribution to European research is built on battle experience and continuous occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

    The question to address would be: How much of the ‘Israeli experience’ penetrates into European research, into Dutch research and into subsequent policy-making?

    To illustrate this concern, two issues that came up as a result of our research could serve as an illustration with a specific focus on the Netherlands. Both would, however, require some further research first.

    For this report we had a closer look at FP7 European Security Research Programme, and more specifically those projects with both Dutch and Israeli participation. We focussed on the Safire project, aimed at radicalisation and the options for intervention. Several Dutch institutions with a strong reputation for an interdisciplinary approach are involved in this project. To assess the influence of the ‘Israeli experience’ in the fight against radicalisation in Europe, ongoing monitoring is required, as the project started only recently. One of the Dutch institutions involved in Safire (and in quite a lot of other FP7 Security Research programmes) is TNO, as the coordinating partner. This institute is a governmental body, and therefore it is possible to obtain information and documents from them under the FOIA. Both the budgets and interim or evaluation reports of Safire and other programmes in which TNO participates

    may shed light on the relation between TNO, other Dutch governmental bodies and institutions, and Israeli partners. Additional interviews with key people in the participating companies and institutions could give more information on the contribution of each of the countries.

    The second issue that could serve as an example is the growing use of drones in non-war situations. The development of the drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), is largely an Israeli product. Today, the knowledge to build these vehicles is more widely available and several Dutch companies produce them. How much of the design of drones developed in the Netherlands is based on Israeli expertise is a topic that requires further investigation, just as the relations between the drones industry in Holland and its Israeli counterparts. The various FP7 programmes to support the expansion of civilian – or rather non- military – use of drones may provide or have provided a platform for such contacts. Europe’s agency set to fight undocumented migration, Frontex, recently gained permission to acquire UAVs for border controls. This can be understood as a successful promotion of the ‘Israeli experience’ in the European context and the European homeland security industry.

    Therefore, it would be important to assess the Israeli lobbying for the so-called civil use of drones in European border control, by, for instance, making a thorough inventory of the content of the various FP7 programmes dealing with drones. English campaigns emphasise the use of drones to kill civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Germany has initiated national programmes to accelerate the introduction of UAVs for civilian use, the Netherlands might follow suit. In order to address the influence of the Israel experience, it might be a good idea to ask the government about the Dutch position on using drones for border control, in the European as well as the national context.