The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is celebrating a victory against Tory attempts to clamp down on boycotts of Israel, after a court ruling on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court ruled that the government’s guidance to councils against divesting from foreign countries and the defence industry was unlawful. It means councils are free to withdraw investments from Israeli industries, in solidarity with Palestinians—a demand of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The ruling is a blow against attempts to outlaw and discredit BDS and solidarity with the Palestinians.
PSC chair Kamel Hawwash said, “This historic victory represents a major win not just for the campaign for Palestinian rights, but for the fundamental principles of democracy, freedom of expression and justice.”
The supreme court decision is a setback for Tory attempts to stop councils withdrawing pension fund investments from Israeli industries.
The government issued guidance in 2016 that prohibited councils from divesting in companies that trade in Israeli products produced in occupied Palestinian land.
The PSC won a judicial review in 2017 to say that this prohibition was unlawful, but the Court of Appeal overturned this in 2018. But now the Supreme Court has ruled in the PSC’s favour.
It comes months after Johnson announced plans to introduce a new law that would ban councils from divesting from foreign countries—specifically citing the BDS campaign.
Supporters of Israel hope to tarnish BDS and PSC with accusations of antisemitism, accusing them of singling out Israel because it is Jewish.
In fact the boycott campaign is a response to a call for solidarity from Palestinian civil society organisations. It’s a tactic that aims to expose the brutality of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
And as Israel moves to annexe even more Palestinian land, it’s vital to defend the right to campaign against it.
Hawwash said, “At a time when Israel is continuing to ramp up its oppression of the Palestinian people and its illegal acts, including annexing large swathes of the illegally occupied West Bank, the Government should be acting to uphold international law and defend human rights, not attacking peaceful campaigns which seek to do precisely that.
“PSC will continue to resist any attempts to suppress BDS activism.”