Leicester City Council has won its landmark High Court review over boycotting produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
In November last year, Leicester city councillors voted not to procure services from illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The motion faced High Court review after a complaint was filed by the Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW), who claimed the decision was anti-semitic.
The argument put forward by JHRW was that the motion is anti-Semitic and would cause division between communities. The politically motivated campaign to link BDS with anti-semitism came following many similar claims by high ranking Israeli officials. The accusation was strenuously denied by the council, as it continues to be denied by those who support BDS as a means to end the illegal and inhumane Israeli occupation.
Andrew Sharland, representing the councils, said that the motion passed by the councils was an exercise of their right to freedom of expression protected by both the common law and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Judges also ruled in favour of other councils in Swansea and Gwynedd which announced similar boycotts and were defendants in the case.
FOA spoke to Councillor Mohammed Dawood earlier this year about the motion and he told us that: “we put forward a motion not to procure services from illegally Occupied Territories as apposed to the Israeli state. At the end of the day, it is being illegally occupied so we aren’t doing anything wrong. We should be doing something to support the Palestinians and so the motion was put forward.”
The involvement of local councils in global causes is nothing new, as during apartheid in South Africa local councils similarly use their positions to defend peace and justice. They continue to play an important role in protecting human rights and promoting social justice.
“This is a momentous day for the Leicester City Council and a clear victory for the BDS movement. Despite the political pressure that has been mounting to ban the boycott, the High Court ruling reinforces the right of all local councils to take similar principled positions. This win is not only symbolic but it shows the popularity of the BDS movement, and it is a further indication that this movement is about human rights and justice for the Palestinian people.” – Ismail Patel, FOA Chairman.
Published: 28th June 2016