Briefing note: Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill – House of common

Arab Ambassadors Urge Britain To Reject Trump’s “Deal Of The Century” 01

On Wednesday 10th January (2024), Members of Parliament will vote on the third reading of the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill.

The Palestinian Mission to the UK expresses its grave concern about the  bill. The proposed legislation encroaches upon and contradicts long-standing UK policy to differentiate between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.  The UK does not recognise Occupied Palestinian territories as part of Israel , which includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. For this reason, goods originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the oPt are not entitled to tariff or trade preferences under either the agreement that the UK has with Israel or the agreement between the UK and Palestine.

In 2016 the UK helped draft  UN Security Council resolution 2334, that obligates states to distinguish “between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” in their “dealings” with the State of Israel, this bill risks putting the UK in breach of its own commitments.

Penalizing public bodies for making ethical investment and procurement decisions, that are in line with UK policy and international law, this bill seeks to secure exceptional treatment and impunity for Israel’s actions.

Last month the UK announced a ban on Israeli settlers that have been involved in attacks against Palestinians. Foreign Secretary David Cameron accused “extreme settlers” of “undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians.” Yet at the same time, the government is putting forward a bill that emboldens these very settlers and the Israeli state sponsored colonial settlement enterprise that in itself is a grave violation of internation al law.

Atrocities are being committed across Palestine and the  Israeli military is engaged in genocidal acts in Gaza under the direction of an Israeli government that has deployed genocidal rhetoric. In the West Bank, settler violence is dramatically increasing. The bill, if passed, not only shields Israel from accountability but also places Israel above the provisions of international law and poses a significant threat to the entire international system.

When the UK government makes allowances for public bodies to make “morally influenced” procurement and investment decisions against some states while excepting Israel, it weakens and undermines its own credibility.
At a time when seeking resolution to the Palestine issue it is more urgent than ever — necessitating a firm commitment to international law and international resolutions, along with a clear determination to hold all parties, especially the occupying power Israel, accountable under those laws and resolutions – the UK would be taking an dangerously retrograde step in passing this bill.

The Palestinian Mission to the UK therefore 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, all illegal settlers and acting to stop British companies from working in and profiting from them.

Given its historic responsibilities, as well as current policies and commitments, the UK needs to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

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