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Johnson urged to drop ‘worrying’ new law to restrict public bodies from launching boycott campaigns

CAMPAIGNERS handed a petition to Downing Street today urging the Prime Minister to scrap a “worrying” new law that would restrict the right of public bodies to launch boycott campaigns. 

The measure, contained in the Public Service Pensions Bill, seeks to prohibit local pension funds from making decisions that could conflict with the “Britain’s foreign and defence policy.” 

Campaigners say that the proposed legislation is targeted at the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and would prevent public bodies from making ethical decisions to boycott and divest from firms complicit in Israeli apartheid. 

The petition, led by Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), highlights that the “right of public bodies to boycott and divest from those who abuse human rights and fail to comply with international law must be upheld.

“In a free society, public bodies must retain the right to make ethical choices,” it adds. 

The petition was also signed by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Amos Trust, Liberal Democrats Friends of Palestine and Conservative Friends of Palestine.

FOA head of public affairs Shamiul Joarder warned that the proposed measure is the “first step towards criminalising the individual right to BDS in Britain and part of a wider crackdown on anything that opposes government policy.”

The amendment to the Bill, proposed by former housing secretary Robert Jenrick, was passed by MPs in February, with Labour MPs ordered to abstain. 

Britain is the latest country to seek to implement anti-BDS legislation, following similar laws passed in several states in the US as well as Germany. 

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