When it comes to Israel and Palestine I do not support BDS. One reason is that sanctions are likely to affect the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Though I must confess that I wouldn’t knowingly buy goods made in the
colonial outposts illegal settlements. This is a reason why they label them as made in Israel. The other reason they label them as made in Israel is because they do not believe Palestine has the right to exist and any talk of a two state solution by them is designed to create the illusion that they do.
Another problem I have with BDS is that if you put together everything they claim to support, then Israel would not exist. Hence on the fringes of the movement are some people with some very nasty views.
That said, the governments plan to legislate to stop councils from choosing to divest is madness. Quite simply, I believe in a free market where people and organisations can buy and sell from and to whoever they want to without hindrance. We have the right to choose to buy and not choose to buy.
PLO Executive Committee Members Dr. Hanan Ashrawi and Dr. Saeb Erekat (Secretary General), met in separate meetings with the British Minister for Middle East Affairs, Tobias Ellwood, after which Dr. Ashrawi and Dr. Erekat released the following joint statement:
“We are seriously concerned at the new British ‘guidance’ that would entail the banning of any kind of ethical procurement by local governments, public bodies and any organization that receives public funding, including some student unions.
In practical terms this means that such bodies are forbidden from exercising their democratic right and freedom of choice not to be complicit in the Israeli settlement project and to take a positive, moral and legal stand in the face of such a war crime.
This represents a serious regression in British policy and it would empower the Israeli occupation by sending a message of impunity. In order to accommodate the Israeli occupation, the British Government is undermining British democracy and their own people’s rights. Such a law would have prevented British citizens from taking peaceful actions against the South African Apartheid. Such a law also contradicts international responsibility and even the UK’s own practice when it comes to entities violating human rights.
Only last week, the Israeli Human Rights Organization Peace Now released a study detailing the Israeli government’s escalation of settlement activities at an unprecedented rate. They found that only in 2015 construction was initiated in at least 1,800 settlement units.
It is no longer acceptable for any government to claim support for the two-state solution while granting immunity to Israeli crimes and systematic violations of international law and UN resolutions. Those who claim to seek the two-state solution should hold Israel accountable for deliberately destroying the prospects of peace and should work on ending the Israeli occupation rather than rewarding it.
Next year signals the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a tragedy that continues to victimize the Palestinian people, both under occupation and in exile. The United Kingdom bears the primary responsibility for such a historical injustice in Palestine. It is called upon to begin the process of rectification and redemption rather than to insist on perpetuating the injustice.
We strongly urge the British government to reconsider its positions and to rescind this regulation. This is not only a matter of law or politics, but also of moral responsibility.”