One of the first bills to be introduced by Britain’s new Conservative government will reportedly stop “local authorities from boycotting individual companies”, a move described as targeting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
The Conservative Party election manifesto did indeed pledge to “ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries”, on the grounds that such moves “undermine community cohesion”. Read more
Efforts by the UK to prevent local authorities divesting their pension funds from companies complicit in Israel’s occupation have prompted accusations of a shrinking space for democratic action from public sector employees and a broad cross-section of rights activists. Read more
In 2012, a report by a UK government-sponsored delegation of lawyers to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories found Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children in military detention to be in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Six years on, however, and Israel has made only modest changes; according to government minister Alistair Burt, speaking in the Houses of Parliament earlier this year, Israel has implemented just one of 43 specific recommendations made by the lawyers. Read more
Following a year of build-up, the Balfour Declaration centenary has now come and gone. After the campaigns, events, articles and protests, I want to take a moment to make a few observations about how the centenary was marked.
To my mind, there were two main aspects to the anniversary’s significance. Read more
In 2005, a group of activists launched the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a global civil society campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to end human rights violations.
Over the years, BDS has gathered momentum and picked up support amongst Palestine solidarity groups, trade unions and on university campuses worldwide.
The impact reached French companies in 2015, when Orange and Veolia, as well as Irish building materials group CRH, all withdrew from the Israeli market following long-running campaigns by BDS activists which, in the case of Veolia, cost the multinational company millions in contracts. Read more
At the end of August, a civil suit brought by the family of Rachel Corrie came to an end with a Haifa judge ruling that the State of Israel bore no responsibility for the death of the American activist in 2003. Despite the judge’s decision, the case – including key testimonies – was widely believed to have “shed light on Israel’s grave breaches of human rights and the impunity enjoyed by its military”.
Rachel Corrie is not the only international to have been killed by Israel since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Three British citizens were shot dead by Israeli soldiers over a six month period in 2002-2003, crimes that almost a decade on are a reminder of the UK government’s reluctance to hold its ally to account. Read more
Last month, on the day that changes in universal jurisdiction law went into effect, Israel’s former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said she “received a phone call” from UK Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould telling her “there is no longer a warrant for my arrest”.
Yet when Livni arrived in Britain on Thursday, something went wrong. In what was billed as a “test case” for a law designed to remove the threat of arrest for visiting Israeli officials, Livni only avoided a warrant due to a legal assessment by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that she was on a “Special Mission”. Read more