Another motion to support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel has been approved by a local council in the UK. Lancaster City Council councilors passed a motion late last month to “condemn Israel’s violations of international law and the killing of Palestinian civilians” and urging the adoption of divestment policies from Israeli companies active in them. illegal settlements.
Passing the motion will mean the board will write to the Lancashire County Pension Fund and the Local Pensions Partnership – which is part of the Local Government Pension Scheme – “urging them to adopt policies requiring them to divest from all businesses active in the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine and all arms companies supplying arms to Israel. “
It is reported that the county council currently has around £ 8million ($ 11million) invested in Israeli businesses linked to illegal settlements reserved for Jews in the occupied West Bank. The Lancashire County Pension Fund has reportedly invested in three companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. According to research from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, these companies are General Mills, Booking.com and Bank Hapoalim BM.
Councilor O’Dwyer-Henry introduced the motion following Israel’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza, which killed more than 250 Palestinians, including women and children. “[Israel’s] human rights violations and violations of international law are flagrant and undeniable, ”said O’Dwyer-Henry in the Jewish Chronicle while addressing the board meeting. “By voting for this motion, we can play our small part in a global BDS movement in opposition to the daily death and destruction unleashed on Palestine.”
O’Dwyer-Henry also mentioned the need to push back on efforts by the British Conservative government to ban local councils from boycotting Israeli products. “By voting for this motion, we will send a message to the government, which plans to introduce new laws prohibiting councils from exercising our democratic rights to support BDS,” O’Dwyer-Henry said.
A second board member supporting the motion spoke of the “reputational risk” of investing in Israeli companies. “[The fund has] choices and they have options and one of the purposes of this is to say that there are reputational risks if we continue to invest in companies that operate in illegally occupied Palestinian territories, ”Green Councilor Gina said. Dowding, adding, “People… want to know that their retirement money is not coming from companies that abuse the international system and do things illegally.”
READ: Scottish ‘Braveheart’ pension fund divests from Israeli bank
Lancaster City Council becomes the second local authority institution in less than a month to divest from Israeli businesses. In June, Edinburgh’s Lothian Pension Fund defied pressure to join the boycott of Bank Hapoalim. The Israeli Bank is one of nine financial institutions listed in the UN Database of Companies Assisting in the Development, Expansion or Maintenance of Settlements and Their Activities by Providing Housing and Development Loans companies in these regions.
The motion also follows the publication of landmark reports concluding that Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity for imposing an apartheid regime on Palestine. In April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) joined a host of other prominent groups in declaring that the occupation state was committing crimes of apartheid and persecution. In January, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem declared that Israel “promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River”. Both echoed the findings of the 2017 UN report which concluded that Israel indeed practiced apartheid.