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UK Lawyers for Israel threatens legal action against UoL for City University's vote to adopt BDS policy

Students hold a protest calling to an end to Israel's occuation on Gaza at Leeds University, UK on 5 May 2018 [University of Leeds - Palestine Solidarity Group/Facebook]
Students hold a protest calling for an end of Israel's occupation on Gaza at Leeds University, UK on 5 May 2018 [University of Leeds - Palestine Solidarity Group/Facebook]

The University of London was threatened with legal action after one of its student unions voted overwhelmingly to support a boycott of Israeli companies, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Israel lobby group, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) intervened, claiming that it would be "illegal" for the union to do so, using the argument that the student union is a registered charity.

UKLFI claimed that the vote was not in line with the charitable status of the student union, or compliant to the aims and objectives of the organisation, including "the advancement of education of students" and "promoting the interests and welfare of students at city".

The letter asserted that, in UKLFI's view, there was a "fundamental distinction" between improving the lives of BAME students and supporting a cause of "Palestinians against Israel."

UKLFI stated in its letter: "Students are entitled to support a political campaign as individuals, provided they do so in a lawful way.

"They are not entitled to have CSU conduct the campaign because it is a charity, and its resources, facilities and time of its staff and officers may only be used to promote its charitable objects.

READ: City University students vote to boycott Israel, in new BDS victory

It continued: "There is a fundamental distinction between a campaign to improve the environment for BAME students at City University and a campaign to promote the cause of Palestinians against Israel. The former is in principle within CSU's charitable objects, the latter is not."

Last week, London's City University's student union hosted a meeting, holding a vote as to whether or not to include Israel in its "Decolonise City" campaign.

A whopping 93 per cent of the attendants voted in favour of divestment from Israeli companies.

City's Friends of Palestine society hailed the vote as "a victory for the Palestinian cause and for the BDS movement," and said that it will be working with the University and its union "to initiate investigations into its involvement with companies complicit in Israel's illegal actions within international law", and cautioned that if the Board of Trustees did not approve the motion, then it would undermine democracy.

The group stated: "Failing to support this motion, which has been democratically voted for by students, would mean that the Trustees would be failing City students and democracy."

READ: Watchdog urged to investigate Jewish charity over 'political' activities

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