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UK to advance anti-BDS legislation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Britain is advancing a legislation that would allow the government to prosecute BDS-supporting public institutions.

The UK is reportedly planning to legally challenge any organization which supports a movement to boycott Israel.

Reports say that Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock will announce the new proposed regulations this week during a trip to Israel.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, Hancock said such boycotts were divisive, potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel and risked fueling anti-Semitism. The report stated that the regulations will allow Britain to act against organizations that impose boycotts and make it easier to take them to court.

The new regulations follow a December 2014 decision by councilors in Leicester, one of Britain’s largest local authorities, condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and voting to boycott goods from the settlements.

Under the regulations, any organization which backs the campaign, dubbed Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS), would likely be taken to court.

All public authorities including N-H-S trusts, councils, universities, and student unions will fall under the new regulations.

While the British Conservatives at the Parliament have welcomed the measure, the opposition Labour Party has opposed it.

The BDS Movement is a global campaign which uses economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the goals of the movement -- the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land particularly through illegal settlement constructions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

The reported legislation bid by the British has already drawn the strong criticism of analysts.  Rodney Shakespeare, a UK-based political commentator, has told Press TV that the move is meant to strengthen Israel.  

“What is happening now is that the UK controlled by a Zionist clique is daring to overthrow the principle by which I and other people can manifest our disgust against the creeping genocide in Palestine and in Gaza,” said Shakespeare.  

“This is an outrage … but the good thing about it is that our government is out in the open,” he added.

Shakespeare said the move by the government to ban boycotts on Israeli goods is part of a wider plan to support the Israelis.

“Our government is openly Zionist and vicious and aggressive and it is trying to force me to buy products which are illegally produced,” he said.  

“This is an outrage and we are not going to stand for it.  It is totally Zionist and it is totally in cahoots with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.”  

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