UK Parliament strikes legal blow against BDS campaign targeting Israel

Measure prohibits local authorities from divesting from pension funds with Israel ties.

By The Algemeiner

The British parliament struck a blow against the anti-Zionist campaign to subject the State of Israel to a comprehensive boycott on Tuesday night, when it passed a measure outlawing local authorities in the UK from divesting from pension funds with Israel ties.

An amendment to the Public Service Pensions Bill submitted by Robert Jenrick, a Conservative Party MP who represents the Newark constituency in England, would prevent local authorities from making decisions that conflict with UK foreign policy.

“For too long, we’ve seen public pension schemes pursue pseudo-foreign policies,” Jenrick told the House of Commons during Tuesday night’s debate. “All too often, the foreign policy of these public pension schemes is, I’m afraid, exclusively focused on rewriting the UK’s relationship with the world’s only Jewish state.”

Jenrick added that he intended to deliver on his pledge to “outlaw” the self-styled “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) campaign. The main goal of the campaign is to isolate Israel economically, politically and culturally and to replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian state extending from the Mediterranean coast to the River Jordan.

Jenrick said his amendment would “merely be the beginning of a wider effort to tackle BDS within the private sector, and that we as a government make good on our manifesto commitment to a full BDS bill.”

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Several opposition Labour MPs strongly criticized the amendment. Zarah Sultana, the MP for Coventry South in England, accused the government of “weaponizing” pension funds against “human rights campaigns,” while her colleague John McDonnell, the former deputy leader of the Labor Party, declared: “I don’t believe it is the role of the state to ride roughshod over my moral choices.”

A separate statement from the Labour Muslim Network described the BDS campaign as “a long-standing call from Palestinian civil society to resist illegal occupation, apartheid and human rights abuses.” The group warned that the amendment would negatively impact international advocacy beyond the Palestinians, and would affect “boycott campaigns against China as they continue with their genocide against the Uyghur Muslims.”

Jewish leaders welcomed the parliamentary vote in favor of Jenrick’s amendment. “We thank Robert Jenrick for bringing forward the amendment and the government for supporting it. Councils should be focusing on community cohesion and not stoking division by importing of a foreign conflict through BDS,” said Claudia Mendoza, Co-CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, in a statement.