UK passes controversial anti-boycott bill despite pro-Palestinian protests

A bill seeking to ban public bodies boycotting Israel was passed in UK's House of Commons, despite pro-Palestine protests outside Parliament. (Photo/AP)

A bill seeking to ban public bodies boycotting Israel was passed in UK's House of Commons, despite pro-Palestine protests outside Parliament.

The Anti-Boycott Bill was passed by 282 to 235 on Thursday, and was sent to the House of Lords.

279 Conservative Party MPs, two independent MPs and 1 member of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party voted in favour of the bill.

162 MPs from the Labour Party, 40 from the Scottish National Party (SNP), 13 from the Liberal Democrat Party, eight from the Conservative Party, two MPs each from Wales' Plaid Cymru and Northern Ireland's Social Democratic Labour Party, one MP each from Alba and the Green Party, as well as six independent candidates voted against the bill.

If the bill is accepted after being discussed in the House of Lords, it will be submitted to King Charles III for approval. The House of Lords could also send the bill to the House of Commons for reconsideration.

Proponents of the bill say it prevents anti-Semitism, while opponents say it gives Israel the green light to continue its onslaught in Gaza.

Protest outside parliament

Gathered in front of Parliament, protesters demonstrated against the bill, formally known as the Public Bodies' Economic Activities (Overseas) Bill.

Em Hilton, founder of Na'amod, a movement led by British Jews seeking to end their community's support of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, addressed the protesters.

He said the UK government is making efforts to suppress those showing solidarity with Palestinians and limiting the right to protest.

Hilton further said the bill, introduced during Israel's onslaught on Gaza, aims to suppress solidarity with Palestine.

He emphasised the importance of combating anti-Semitism but criticised using pressure on the Palestinian solidarity movement as the solution.

Hilton said that undemocratic laws will not guarantee security, highlighting that securing Gaza and building apartheid walls are not "viable" solutions.

He reiterated that a ceasefire could have spared thousands of lives.

'Sanctions on Israel'

Also speaking to protesters, Tommy Sheppard, the SNP member for the British Parliament, said the proposed law's goal is to stop nonviolent actions, saying the bill elevates Israel to a status where it cannot be criticised.

Sheppard expressed his hope that this bill would not become law before the upcoming general elections in the second half of this year.

He said that this bill is to prevent people from criticizing the people who are causing the "greatest humanitarian crisis in the history of the world."

'Israel an apartheid state'

Natalie Bennett, member of the House of Lords, said that the Green party, of which she is a member, will oppose the bill.

Bennett said: "Public institutions are asked to act in accordance with British foreign policy. We say 'No'. We will act by human rights and democracy."

John Finucane, one of the MPs of Sinn Fein in the British Parliament, who is pro-union with the Republic of Ireland, recalled that Ireland and Sinn Fein are in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Finucane stated that Ireland implemented a boycott of apartheid South African goods in 1987. "Israel is an apartheid state and should be treated as such," he said.

Amnesty International earlier called on parliamentarians to address the Gaza blockade, halt arms transfers to Israel, and support the International Criminal Court's investigation into human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.


Source: TRT