UK public figures call for Israel sanctions

Jeremy Corbyn and Maxine Peake (Jane Barlow - ZUMA Press)

Asa Winstanley

The Electronic Intifada  /  June 10, 2020

More than 100 lawmakers, artists, trade unionists and activists in the UK on Monday issued a call for sanctions on Israel over its latest plan to annex Palestinian lands.

It is the latest win for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The public statement calls for sanctions, including a ban on sales of settlement goods and an end to the arms trade with Israel.

Among the signatories to the call are: former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; actor Maxine Peake; musician Brian Eno; lawmakers Ian Lavery, Caroline Lucas, John McDonnell, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Zarah Sultana; trade union leader Len McCluskey; historian William Dalrymple and filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

The statement was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in response to a call last month by Palestinian civil society – as coordinated by the BDS National Committee – for “effective measures” against the annexation plan.

“Israel’s new right-wing government is once more set to formally annex large swathes” of the West Bank, the BDS National Committee stated last month. “This de jure annexation would culminate years of gradual de facto annexation through the appropriation of land, forcible displacement of Palestinian population and the transfer of Israeli settler population” into the West Bank.

The BDS committee called for all states to adopt “effective countermeasures, including sanctions, to end Israel’s unlawful acquisition of Palestinian territory through use of force, its regime of apartheid, and its denial of our inalienable right to self-determination.”

These measures should include an arms embargo, an end to free-trade agreements, prohibition of all trade with Israeli settlements and accountability for Israeli war criminals, the BDS committee said.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is calling for supporters to sign on to the statement and spread its message among local groups and on social media.


Corbyn was among 145 lawmakers from all parties who signed a letter to the UK prime minister last month calling for “severe consequences including sanctions” on Israel should annexation go ahead.

The UK has stated that it does “not support” the annexation plan but – in common with other European countries – refuses to take any concrete action against it.

As The Electronic Intifada’s Omar Karmi explained in his analysis of the Netanyahu-Trump annexation plan last week, although several European governments, Russia, China, Jordan and Gulf countries have all expressed opposition, such words are empty without action.

“Israel only really cares about US opinion,” Karmi explains. And in any case, “European countries will not step in.”

The annexation plan will reportedly swallow as much as 30 percent of the West Bank, formally declaring it as part of the state of Israel. The whole of the West Bank and Gaza Strip already constitute only 22 percent of historic Palestine.

Israel has made it clear that the Palestinians living the newly annexed land will not be granted citizenship rights – only Jewish settlers living in the same lands have that right.

The annexation plan mostly avoids swallowing up large Palestinian population centers in the affected areas, such as Jericho.

But the result will be that Palestinians living in such areas will be isolated and surrounded in a large sea of “Israeli sovereignty,” denied their right to travel in their own homeland.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada; he lives in London