Anti-Boycott bill could shield international law breakers, human rights violators

Palestinian Mission to the UK  /  June 19, 2023

The Palestinian Mission to the UK expresses its utmost concern at the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, also known as the “anti-boycott” bill tabled today in the UK parliament.

The proposed bill prevents public UK bodies from taking ethical decisions regarding their investments and could undermine the ability of human rights, environmental and other activists from holding violators of international law to account.

The bill specifically mentions the Occupied Palestinian Territory, risking erasing the distinction between Israeli-occupied territory and Israel. This could set a legislative precedent, upending decades of bipartisan UK policy, contravening international resolutions, including United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, rendering declarations of support for peace and a two-state outcome moot.

H.E. Ambassador Husam Zomlot, head of Palestinian Mission to the U.K. said: “By providing a cloak of impunity, this bill encourages more violations of international law, including the acquisition of territory by force, the moving of civilian settler populations to occupied territory — a war crime – or land confiscations and home demolitions.”

Ambassador Zomlot added: “We are deeply concerned that this has broader implications for Britain’s supposed commitment to the global rule-of-law-based order. We view the proposed legislation as yet another sign that the UK is abdicating its historic responsibility for and direct role in creating the plight of the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinian Mission to the UK calls on the UK government to reconsider and withdraw this legislation, to continue to adhere to international law, including by banning all products from illegal settlements, and acting to stop British companies from working in and profiting from them.

The Mission also calls on all UK political parties and civil society organizations to oppose this dangerous attempt to reward serial violators of human rights and international law, to undermine freedom of expression and to penalize human rights defenders.