William Eichler 16 March 2017

Activists to challenge council pension boycott restrictions in High Court

Pro-Palestine campaigners have been granted permission to take the Government to the High Court over law preventing councils from boycotting companies involved in Israel’s human rights violations.

Whitehall amended the rules governing Local Government Pensions Schemes (LGPS) with new guidance last October to stop councils using pensions and procurement to boycott or divest from foreign allies.

The move was designed to prevent councils joining the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) which aims to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, its siege of Hamas-controlled Gaza and discrimination against Israeli Arabs.

A judicial review has given the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) – along with War on Want and Campaign Against Arms Trade – permission to challenge the Government’s position at the High Court.

The judge described the case as ‘of significant public importance’ and ordered that the trial be expedited to begin as soon as possible after 1st April.

‘We are delighted that the court has agreed that PSC’s challenge to the Government is of significant public importance and has granted permission for the case to proceed,’ said PSC director Ben Jamal.

‘This represents a huge step in our efforts to overturn the Government’s attempts to prevent pension schemes from making ethical investment decisions.

‘The guidance represents a wider attack on people’s rights to protest about Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, including via the promotion of the peaceful campaign for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions.

‘We are determined to defend both the rights of Palestinians and the ability of citizens everywhere to take action in support of those rights.’

Photo: B Christopher/Shutterstock.com

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