Ministers urged to reject Israeli arms firm’s bid to run Scottish traffic control centre

Scottish ministers have been urged to reject a bid from an Israeli arms manufacturer for a trunk roads traffic monitoring contract.

By Alastair Dalton
Sunday, 30th May 2021, 1:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 30th May 2021, 4:51 pm

The call came after it was reported that Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) firm Elta Systems had bid for a £21 million order to run Transport Scotland’s Traffic Scotland control centre in South Queensferry, which monitors motorways and other trunk roads.

The Sunday Mail reported the Israeli government-owned company was tendering for the contract despite its core business being the “development of advanced defence and intelligence ­electronics, including sensors, radars, electronic warfare and communication systems”.

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Traffic Scotland's national control centre in South Queensferry monitors the country's motorways and trunk roads. Picture: Michael Gillen

IAI products include missiles and “precise strike weapons”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other ministers have condemned Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Transport Scotland was unable to confirm whether Elta had been shortlisted for the contract and invited to submit a tender.

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said: “If it is established that this company has been regularly ­testing systems in Gaza, they should not be anywhere near this contract.

"I ask the Scottish ­Government to look in to this as soon as possible.

“It is my understanding that government policy is not to allow Scottish companies to engage goods and services linked to the occupation of Palestinian territories and I will be calling on them to act.

“There could also potentially be security issues given the nature of this company ­appearing to be part of the Israeli ­Government’s military ­organisation and getting access to Scotland’s CCTV network.

“I would have thought that the Scottish Government would want to test the involvement of any bidder against the security issues of getting this access to our CCTV traffic network.”­­

Scottish Greens external affairs spokesperson Ross Greer said: “Any company complicit in Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine should be banned from bidding for public contracts here in Scotland.

"A total of 66 Palestinian children were killed this month as a result of this illegal military occupation.

"Scotland shouldn’t have blood on its hands by funding Israel’s arms dealers.

“The international boycott campaign played a major role in bringing down South African apartheid.

"With both Human Rights Watch and Israel’s largest domestic human rights organisation both labelling Israel an apartheid state, that same boycott strategy should be applied here until the occupation ends.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We are currently running a procurement for a new Traffic Scotland operator service in accordance with procurement regulations.

"This is a live procurement valued at £21m and the successful tenderer will be announced once the procurement process is complete.”

The Scottish Government agency said the UK was bound by the World Trade Organisation’s agreement on government procurement treaty, which regulates the conduct of such deals and was based on the principles of “non-discrimination, transparency and procedural fairness”.

A spokesperson for Elta told the Sunday Mail: “As a global ­technology company, it is our policy not to discuss ongoing tenders.”

Egypt and Israel were today holding high-level talks in both countries to shore up a fragile truce between Israel and the Hamas militant group, and rebuild the Gaza Strip after a punishing 11-day war that left much of the seaside enclave in ruins.

The conflict killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and caused heavy destruction in the impoverished coastal territory.

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