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Exclusive: BDS bill 'effectively dead' amid UK election

Exclusive: BDS bill 'effectively dead' as it fails to pass parliament before UK election
3 min read
The BDS bill, which would outlaw councils from boycotting Israel, has failed to pass parliament meaning it will unlikely to become law in its current form.

The Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill - better known as the BDS bill - will not become law before parliamentary recess, a source has told The New Arab, effectively killing off the proposal that would make it illegal for public bodies to boycott Israeli goods.

The bill is currently stalled at the committee stage, having passed through the House of Commons and the first two votes in the House of Lords earlier this year.

It will not be given Royal Assent before parliament is dissolved on Thursday, ahead of the 4 July general election, a political source informed The New Arab.

If passed, it would have made it illegal for councils and other public bodies to boycott goods based on national origin, with rights groups and pro-Palestinian campaigners seeing this as an attack on the right to protest. 

Another parliamentary source confirmed to The New Arab that the bill did not appear in the chamber business for Friday and so will not pass before prorogation next week.

With Labour's opposition to the proposed law, the BDS bill has effectively been killed off in its current form. 















The proposed law was spearheaded by Conservative Party MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, but had been hugely controversial for making no distinction between the occupied West Bank, Gaza and Israel proper.

This would mean councils would be banned from boycotting goods made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank ,despite these outposts being illegal under international law.

Public bodies would also be denied the right to snub products potentially made by Uighur workers in China's Xinjiang Province, which rights group say amounts to slave labour.

When The New Arab requested comment from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, a spokesperson referred TNA to today’s business in the House, indicating that the law had failed to pass.

The Labour Party, which is expected to win the July general election by a landslide, supports a BDS law but voted against the bill due to these concerns.

Labour MP Afzal Khan welcomed the failure of the bill. “It was a terrible, badly written and badly judged bill. I'm glad it has fallen, and I hope we won't see it back,” he told The New Arab.

Pro-Palestinian activists in the UK and elsewhere have called for a boycott of Israeli goods to pressure Israel to conform to international law, including ending its occupation of the West Bank and siege on Gaza.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed over 36,000 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, with schools, hospitals and homes targeted in the Israeli bombing campaign.