A group of anti-apartheid organisations, led by Friends of Al-Aqsa, today submitted a petition to Downing Street urging the prime minister to scrap the anti-BDS Bill and instead protect the right to boycott in the UK.
The group included the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, the Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Amos Trust, Liberal Democrats Friends of Palestine and Conservative Friends of Palestine.
“The right of public bodies to boycott and divest from those who abuse human rights and fail to comply with international law must be upheld,” the petition said. “In a free society, public bodies must retain the right to make ethical choices.”
“This is worrying legislation,” said Shamiul Joarder, head of public affairs at FOA. “Public bodies must retain the right to boycott and divest from those complicit in Israeli apartheid. This is a first step towards criminalising the individual right to BDS in the UK, and part of a wider crackdown on anything that opposes government policy, as seen by the Public Order Bill which allows police to shut down protests that are ‘too noisy’.”
The UK government has banned public bodies from taking part in boycott and divestment campaigns — a move that pro-Palestine activists say is in place to help businesses profitting from apartheid Israel.