A PRO-PALESTINE protest disrupted a Somerset Council’s meeting demanding the eviction of an Israeli weapons firm from an authority’s property.

Yesterday (Monday, April 15) the Property and Investments Executive Sub-Committee meeting was disrupted by a member of the Palestine Action group.

A spokesperson for Palestine Action said that during the meeting a resident submitted a question demanding the immediate eviction of the Israeli weapons firm Elbit Systems from the council's property Aztec West 600 in Bristol.

The spokesperson also said: “Several residents and supporters of Palestine Action disrupted Somerset Council's 'Property and Investments Sub-Committee meeting' for over 30 minutes, before the councillors closed the meeting to the public.

“During the meeting, a local resident submitted a question demanding the immediate eviction of the Israeli weapons firm Elbit Systems from the council's property Aztec West 600 in Bristol.

“This was followed by locals handing out pictures of injured and killed Palestinian children during the ongoing Gaza genocide.

“Residents also held a banner with the names of dozens of Palestinians who've been killed by the Israeli military using Elbit's weaponry, whilst taking turns to disrupt the meeting to make their demands heard.

“Over the past three months, residents have disrupted three council meetings in total over the council's continued complicity in the Gaza genocide.

“Locals have also twice sprayed red paint across the council's town hall - on one of such occasions, they also locked on to blockade any access to the premises.”

“The council have said they will meet with Elbit Systems UK to discover what is happening at Aztec West 600 before taking any further moves to evict the company.”

A spokesperson for Somerset Council said: "We respect the freedom of individuals and groups to exercise their right to peaceful protest, and fully welcome public participation in the democratic process.

“However, we cannot carry out important business of the council while being continually disrupted which is why a decision was made to suspend the meeting until such time as it could be resumed.

“We have contractual obligations regarding the lease on this legacy investment property, which is currently in our commercial investments disposal programme, and we are committed to ensuring that we have obtained and considered all information which will allow us to make legitimate decisions regarding this property.”

“An amendment to the recommendations in agenda item 6 Item 6 Investment Portfolio revisions.pdf (somerset.gov.uk) was proposed by Cllr Liz Leyshon, seconded by Cllr Richard Wilkins, and approved unanimously that this Executive Sub Committee tasks officers with the following:

i) That the Service Director - Strategic Asset Management write to Elbit UK requesting an urgent meeting to discuss and clarify the current and future use of their premises at Aztec West and report back to the next meeting of this Sub Committee following that meeting.

ii) That the Interim Head of Legal Services and the section 151 Officer report to the next meeting of this Sub Committee on the potential options available to the Council as landlord of the office building at 600 Aztec West in the light of the recent public concerns and protests and the risks and benefits attached to each of those options, including (a) the implications (if any) for the financial stability of Somerset Council and (b) the opinions of the Section 151 officer, the Monitoring Officer and the External Auditor.