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  • The BDS campaign was created in 2005 to pressure Israel to end its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its siege on Gaza.

    The BDS campaign was created in 2005 to pressure Israel to end its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its siege on Gaza. | Photo: Electronic Intifada (Joe Catron)

Published 17 December 2019
Opinion

The new legislation will bar national bodies and universities from endorsing a movement meant to fight human rights violations against the Palestinians.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ban the country’s public bodies from taking part in the boycott and divestment campaigns of any products coming from foreign countries including Israel.

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The move is seen as a way to target the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), meaning the new legislation will bar national bodies and universities from endorsing a movement meant to fight the human rights violations carried out by Israel against the Palestinians.

Researcher Hilary Aked who investigates opposition to BDS said -in an interview to Al Jazeera- that "labeling the Palestinian-led BDS movement 'anti-Semitic' is deeply damaging to the cause of anti-racism, both in terms of fighting genuine anti-Semitism and opposing the apartheid system Israel imposes on Palestinians.”

The expert added that "the Conservative government's renewed talk of outlawing BDS is the result of having lost the moral argument and, like supporters of Israel everywhere, needing to resort to repression and smears to stop ethical boycott and divestment initiatives."

Johnson, whose conservative party won a landslide parliamentary majority in the Dec. 12 election, has previously described himself as a “passionate Zionist.”

After the British premier’s victory, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed to congratulate him and to praise his win as a "crushing victory in the fight against anti-Semitism," apparently referring to the baseless allegations of antisemitism within the opposition Labour Party.

Last month, the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court, ruled that food and drink imported from illegal Israeli settlements to be sold within the bloc, must be labeled as produced in the occupied Palestinian territories and not as “Made in Israel".

But as Johnson is preparing to take the U.K. out of the EU before the end of January 2020, this decision if the divorce deal is reached, would not affect the country. His exceptional parliamentary majority means that unlike previously, his proposals will barely face resistance.

The BDS campaign was created in 2005 by a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups with the objective of resorting to peaceful methods that would force Israel to end its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its siege on Gaza. The movement’s supporters compare it to the anti-apartheid movement that targeted South Africa during its apartheid era.

To counter this non-violent movement, the Israeli government has founded a department called the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Since the establishment of the body, laws were introduced in several countries, including in the United States and France, with the stated aim of criminalizing BDS.

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