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Thursday, 10 January 2019

Palestine Solidarity Campaign wins right to go to Supreme Court over ban on LGPS ethical divestment

  • Campaigners are celebrating a significant victory after a Supreme Court panel granted the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision that a ban on ethical divestment by Local Government Pension Schemes is lawful.
  • Campaigners are concerned about threats to freedom of expression, government overreach in local democracy, and the right of pension holders to have a say in the investment and divestment of funds.
  • Only 1 in 3 cases that apply to the Supreme Court get permission to appeal. It is likely that a hearing will take place in the second half of 2019.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has won the right to challenge the Court of Appeal judgement which upheld the Government’s right to restrict Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) from divesting contrary to UK foreign and defence policy, thereby limiting the possibility of divestment from companies involved in Israel’s human rights violations.

In 2016 the Department for Communities and Local Government’s issued guidance which prohibited Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) from disinvesting against foreign nations and UK defence industries. This included a prohibition against disinvestment in companies on the basis that they trade in products produced in the occupied Palestinian territories, for example, even if this was the will of the LGPS members.

In June 2017, PSC brought a Judicial Review challenge which resulted in the Administrative Court ruling that the decision to prohibit LGPS funds from this kind of disinvestment was unlawful. The Court of Appeal then overturned the Administrative Court’s decision at a hearing in May 2018.

PSC has now been granted permission to appeal this judgement at the Supreme Court. According to Bindmans LLP, PSC’s solicitor, approximately 1 in 3 cases that apply to the Supreme Court get permission to appeal in this way. It is likely that a hearing will take place in the second half of 2019.
Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said:
 “This historic decision marks a significant moment for the Palestinian solidarity movement and for all those who believe in democracy, freedom of expression and justice. In 2005 Palestinian civil society called for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions measures until Israel adheres to its obligations under international law. Everyone, including pension scheme members, has a right to heed the Palestinian call and peacefully protest Israel’s violation of human rights – it is their money being invested unethically. We look forward to once again challenging the Government in court on this fundamental issue. We would like to thank all our members and supporters who have enabled us through their funding and support to pursue this case.”
Jamie Potter, Partner in the Public Law and Human Rights team at Bindmans LLP, and solicitor for PSC said:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to grant permission is welcome. The potential ramifications of the Court of Appeal decision are significant and worthy of consideration by the highest Court in the UK. If the Court of Appeal decision is allowed to stand, it permits the executive carte blanche to impose their own political perspective on the investment of citizens’ money. However, if PSC is successful in its appeal, the Government will not be able to interfere in the ethical investment decisions of LGPS and their members.”






Thursday, 29 November 2018

3,000 lobby their MPs on Palestinian child prisoners and arms ban




The Ambassador for Palestine speaks at the Palestine Lobby

Three thousand people contacted their MPs yesterday at a mass lobby of Parliament.  Their focus was securing government action on the issue of Israel's detention and maltreatment of Palestinian child prisoners and a stopping the bilateral arms trade with Israel.

Warm reception at for speaker who have done so much to raise abuse of Palestinian children - 'Something as a union and as teachers we could not ignore. This is institutionalised abuse. Families living in a vortex of fear.'

 . working with refugee children in UK thought she had seen everything then went to . Says has come a long way. Recognition of Palestine is a 'right to be realised' not a concession. Time to

 'As the going gets harder (in the Palestinian struggle) we are going to get LOUDER!' says of supporters in Parliament.

 . speaking at calls for and congratulates for their tireless week in, week out, campaigning. Important that people in UK are campaigning for lifting of the blockade

 . reiterated the UK must press for end of Israel's military detention of children

 Emily Thornberry flanked by Caroline Lucas MP and Lisa Nandy MP

  says essential question how many more generations of Palestinian children must grow up under occupation in fear and violence ?

 . says once in government will immediately recognise state of Palestine. Shame on UN that Israel has ignored resolutions on illegal occupation and settlements. Will call for action and pursue 2 state solution.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Brent people pledge solidarity with Palestinians at crowded impassioned meeting

A crowded meeting on 'Solidarity with the Palestinian People'organised by Brent  & Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Brent Trades Council yesterday (September 27th) showed the commitment of local people to supporting Palestinians in their struggle for justice. The meeting ended on a high note with participants urged to deepen and widen the Palestine solidarity movement.


Hugh Lanning, Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign speaks, introduced by Mary Adossides, Chair of Brent Trades Council. 


Kiri Tunks President, National Union of Teachers section of the National Education Union.



David Rosenberg, Jewish Socialists' Group


Salma Karmi Ayyoub, criminal lawyer and external consultant for Al Haq, Palestinian human rights organisation


Graham Durham of Brent Central Labour Party


Questions and discussion part 1


Questions and discussion part 2

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Hear excellent speakers on solidarity with the Palestinian struggle Septemver 27th



Early notice of a local meeting organised by Brent Trades Council and Brent and Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign at a time when support for the Palestinians is more important than ever.



Brent and Harrow PSC will be joining other London PSC groups on Saturday 11am-1pm outside HSBC Bank in Kensington High Street (opposite the station and to the right) to protest at HSBC financing companies manufacturing arms used against Palestinians.  Support welcome - placards provided.


Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Barnet Council motion uses IHRA examples against BDS campaigners

From Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Barnet Councillor Brian Gordon is to propose a motion effectively outlawing organisations that support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The motion [below] cites the hotly disputed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) document on antisemitism as justification for the move. The meeting is at Hendon Town Hall, 7pm tonight.

The motion calls for the London Borough of Barnet to ‘consider the legality of ensuring’ it does ‘not to provide or rent any space’ to individuals and groups supporting the BDS movement – effectively seeking a ban on events promoting sanctions against Israel for its violations of international law.
Councillor Gordon’s motion specifically quotes the contentious guidance notes to the IHRA document in order to claim that BDS is antisemitic, because other countries are not similarly targeted. 

However no other country that the UK treats as an ally has been in illegal occupation of another country for over 50 years, suppressing the human rights of its inhabitants.

The motion has national significance because the Labour Party – which has adopted the 38-word IHRA definition of antisemitism – has been criticised for not fully adopting the guidanceattached to it, including the two examples cited in the motion.

Jonathan Rosenhead, Vice Chair of Free Speech on Israel, said:

Those criticising Labour for failing to adopt the full IHRA guidance claim the document poses no threat to freedom of expression. This motion being put forward in Barnet clearly demonstrates that they are wrong and vindicates the adjustments made by Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said:
Palestinians have a right to describe their history and the continuing racist injustices that deny them their rights, whether as unequal citizens of the State of Israel, living under military occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, under siege in Gaza, or as refugees denied the right of return. Others have a right to hear this information and, in line with a commitment to fighting racism in all its forms, to respond to the Palestinian call for global action via Boycott Divestment and Sanctions.
Despite the clear warning from distinguished lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC in his legal opinion on the IHRA document, groups lobbying for Israel have continued to press public bodies both to adopt the IHRA definition and to use it to suppress both legitimate criticism of Israel, and calls for action on behalf of the Palestinian people. In March, a delegation including Joan Ryan MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Israel , Matthew Offord MP of Conservative Friends of Israel petitioned Theresa May at 10 Downing Street, calling for action to  prevent events on UK campuses that describe Israel as an apartheid state, citing the IHRA document as justification.

Campaigners for Palestinian rights including Free Speech on Israel, Jewish Voice for Labour and Palestine Solidarity Campaign are calling for the motion to be withdrawn. They have also called for the UK government to issue a clear statement that no public body should use the IHRA definition to prevent legitimate criticism of the state of Israel (which includes describing its laws and policies as “racist” and meeting the legal definition of “apartheid”). Nor should they use it to prevent calls for peaceful actions including boycott divestment and sanctions in response to Israel’s continuing violations of Palestinian human rights.

Administration motion in the name of Cllr Brian Gordon Boycott the antisemitic BDS movement 

On 31st January 2017, Barnet became the first local authority to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of antisemitism and its corresponding guidance, which recognises that antisemitism takes many forms including, in certain circumstances, targeting of the State of Israel. 

The IHRA’s guidance rightly points out that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled [sic] against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”. However, Council believes the aims, methods, and rhetoric of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and believes its go well beyond this, and are consistent with the IHRA’s guidance on the definition of antisemitism. Specifically: 

·      A completely disproportionate focus on the State of Israel to the exclusion of all other territorial disputes and ethnic conflicts in the world, e.g. the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, or the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus; 

·      “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour [sic]”; 

·      Frequently reported incidents of BDS activists “Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” and “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterize Israel or Israelis.” 

·      “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” 
Following similar action taken by the City of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on 25th August 2017, Council instructs the Policy & Resources Committee to produce a Use of Council Premises policy and to consider the legality of ensuring:
·      The London Borough of Barnet does not provide any space or areas for clubs, organizations or even individuals who support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

·      The London Borough of Barnet instructs its companies not to provide or rent any space for affiliates, organizations or individuals who support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

·      The London Borough of Barnet appeals to landlords of event venues in the borough not to provide or rent any space for clubs, organizations or even individuals who support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

·      The London Borough of Barnet does not make any donations or grants to associations, organisations or other groups which support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

Council also reaffirms its commitment to fight all forms of prejudice, whether against religion, race, sex, gender, or age.