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Sunday, 29 December 2019

PSC statement on Government's anti-BDS proposals

The Conservative party announced in its manifesto an intention to introduce legislation to prohibit public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycott divestment or sanctions (BDS) campaigns against foreign countries . The accompanying statement by Robert Jenrick , Communities Secretary that such boycotts fuel antisemitism made it clear that this policy was solely targeted at BDS campaigns aiming to hold Israel accountable for its violation of Palestinian rights.

Now Eric Pickles , UK ‘s special envoy for post holocaust issues has  added more meat to the bones of the manifesto commitment in a speech he made this week in Jerusalem when he suggested that the new law would not allow public bodies to work with those who boycott, divest from or sanction Israel. This indicates the proposed law may mirror legislation introduced in more than 20 US states some of which seeks to prohibit public bodies from contracting with any company or institution that has divested from Israel, or expressed  support for the BDS campaign.

Here in the UK , The government has already tried to prohibit Local Government Pension Schemes from divesting from companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law, via regulations  attached to already existing pension Law. PSC has challenged these through the Courts with a final Supreme Court decision expected in the New Year. This latest move appears to be an attempt to bypass any Supreme Court ruling via the introduction of primary legislation.

In response to these moves PSC’s Director Ben Jamal said:
“For a number of years Israel has recognised that it is losing the battle world opinion. In 2010 the Reut institute, an Israeli think tank identified the BDS movement as the number one strategic threat to Israel.  In response Israel has been coordinating a global campaign to fight back against the BDS movement . Central to this has been the attempt to frame the movement as extremist and anti-Semitic and the promulgation of the IHRA definition of antisemitism has been a key tool in this campaign. Within this frame Israel has tried to persuade its allies to introduce anti BDS legislation.

We have seen this happening in France Germany the US and elsewhere. In the past week, as a further development Donald Trump signed an executive order effectively defining Judaism as a nationality in a move designed to prohibit BDS activism on US campuses. Unsurprisingly a Conservative government that seeks to ally itself with Donald Trump and his far right agenda is following suit.

This represents a serious threat to the rights of Palestinian people to call for peaceful action through BDS s to end their oppression and the rights of campaigners to respond to that call including by making ethical decisions about divesting funds from complicit organisations.

The campaign for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) seeks to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights and of international law. It targets complicity not identity. Failing to take action to hold Israel account makes one complicit. The campaign follows the model established by human rights activists from Gandhi to Luther King to Mandela of non cooperation by refusing to offer financial, cultural or political support to institutionalised discrimination.

All those who believe in international law, human rights and freedom of expression must vigorously oppose this legislation.

PSC calls upon the Government to live up to its responsibilities under international law to hold Israel to account, and to abandon these steps which serve to enhance  UK complicity in human rights violations.  We call upon all civil society organisations and public bodies to join us in resisting these regressive and immoral measures designed to repress the Palestinian people’s legitimate strugglefor freedom justice and equality.”

Monday, 3 June 2019

Stand Up for Palestine - Support the anti-Trump demonstration tomorrow

From Together Against Trump
The national demonstration against Trump on Tuesday 4 June will be assembling at 11am at Trafalgar Square, marching to Downing Street and then to Parliament Square, creating a Trump-free zone and Carnival of Resistance.
The nearest station is Charing Cross Station (Bakerloo and Northern lines). To avoid the main crowds and the possibility of disruption, use Embankment, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square stations. Westminster is the closest station for the Parliament Square rally.

What else is happening during Trump’s State Visit?

There will protests against Trump at every stage of his visit including outside Buckingham Palace during the State Banquet on Monday 3rd, outside Downing Street when he meets Theresa May on Tuesday 4th and in Portsmouth on Wednesday 5th. Below is a comprehensive list of the events taking place around the country during Trump’s visit between Monday 3rd and Wednesday 5th June.

Monday 3rd June

Protest at the Palace: Spoil Trump’s banquet
What: Donald Trump is coming to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace on Monday 3 June, as part of his state visit. We say he doesn’t deserve this red-carpet treatment and we plan to make ourselves heard right outside the palace as he turns up. Bring pots and pans, vuvuzelas, musical instruments etc and make some noise!
When: 5:30pm
Where: Gather outside Buckingham Palace, on the green on Spur Road
See Facebook event here

The People’s Banquet
What: When President Trump comes to the UK for the pomp and ceremony of a state visit, we are calling on women and allies to join us for a People’s Banquet and to share words of love and peace.
When: 7pm
Where: Parliament Square
See Facebook event here

Protests also taking place on Monday 3rd June around the country from 5pm onwards in BangorBirmingham, Brixton, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Leamington Spa, Manchester, Newcastle, and Nottingham.

Tuesday 4th June

Trump Baby
What: Trump Baby will be making a return and will fly over Parliament Square for two hours on Tuesday morning. A smaller version will be placed at ground level along the Together Against Trump march route throughout the day for protesters to take pictures with!
When: 9:30am – 11am
Where: Parliament Square

Together Against Trump – stop the state visit national demonstration
What: Donald Trump is coming to Britain for a state visit. Let’s show him what we think of his divisive, hateful policies! We will be taking to the streets opposing Trump’s racism, themed areas will feature throughout the protest with climate justice, migrants’ rights, anti-racism, Women’s rights, LGBT rights, anti-war and trade union rights and many more.

When: 11am – 4pm
Where: We will be assembling in Trafalgar Square from 11 am on Tuesday 4 June to declare a Trump free zone. We will then march down Whitehall and have a rally by the Women’s Memorial close to Downing Street, and then march round to Parliament Square for the closing rally. The route map will be available soon.
See Facebook event here

Monday, 29 April 2019

May 11th - two events for Palestine

The Palestinian people need our solidarity more than ever, and are calling for global protests to protect their collective rights. As Israel continues to flout international law and violate human rights, there is a responsibility on the global community to hold it to account and push for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.

No new Nakba! - End the Siege! - Defend the Right of Return!

Organised by: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al- Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain

Plus in the evening this event organised locally:

Ticket Reservations HERE

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Action for Palestine Today! EXIST! RESIST! RETURN! Kensignton High Street 1pm

Kensington High Street,  Opposite Israeli Embassy, 1pm Saturday March 30th

Since the election of Donald Trump the collective rights of the Palestinian people have come under intensifying attacks. Israel has further entrenched its system of oppression; passing a racist nation state law, maintaining its crippling siege on Gaza, and continuing to rapidly expand illegal settlements in defiance of international law. Israel also killed more than 200 unarmed demonstrators during the ongoing Great Return March, and injured more Palestinians in 2018 than during the entire war on Gaza in 2014. Meanwhile, Trump’s cuts to UNRWA funding are part of a wider attempt to redefine the refugee status of millions of displaced Palestinians and erase their fundamental Right of Return.

So the Palestinian people need our solidarity more than ever, and are calling for global protests to protect their rights. As Israel continues to flout international law and violate human rights, there is a responsibility on the global community to hold it to account and push for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.

March 30th is Palestinian Land Day - when Palestinians across the world remember the unarmed protesters killed by Israel in 1976 during demonstrations about Israel’s theft of Palestinian land. This year, March 30th also marks the the 1st anniversary of the start of the Great Return March. These ongoing protests, taking place every single Friday, have seen thousands of Palestinians fighting for their right of return to their villages and homes from which they were forcibly removed. Many have been irreversibly injured and even killed for doing so.

The Palestinian people refuse to give up their struggle for justice. It is our task to draw inspiration from their endurance and answer their call for international solidarity.

So join us on March 30th to show support for the Palestinian struggle, and to rally for Palestinians’ fundamental rights to EXIST, RESIST & RETURN!

#FreePalestine #ExistResistReturn

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.”