The National Union of Students (NUS) has voted in favour of a motion to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Members of the body’s National Executive Council debated and passed the motion with 23 votes for, 18 against and one abstention.
The BDS movement attempts to exert economic and political pressure on Israel until it “complies with international law and Palestinian rights.”
The vote in favour of supporting BDS was passed as an amendment to a broader motion “to condemn the collective punishment and killing in Gaza.” The amendment to the motion called upon students and affiliated students’ unions to boycott corporations “complicit in the financing of the Israeli military.”
The final motion also demanded “an internal audit of NUS products, services and departments to ensure they do not, as far as is practical, employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel’s military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity, and actively work to cut ties with those that do.”
The BDS movement, initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005, calls for three simple demands:
1. Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Reacting to the decision The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) welcomed the historic and expressed its thanks to the leaders of NUS for their “commendable stand in support of human rights in Israel-Palestine.”
A FOSIS statement said: “NUS joins a whole range of trade unions and professional bodies including Unite, TSSA, the National Union of Teachers, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the Trades Union Congress in its endorsement of BDS…
“For decades, Israel’s systematic violation of the fundamental rights of Palestinians to freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation, has been allowed to continue unabated with impunity.
“Nowhere can this impunity afforded to Israel’s crimes be seen more clearly than in the current bombardment of schools, hospitals, universities, and mosques in Gaza with over 1,835 Palestinians killed, 400 of them children, in a matter of weeks.
“NUS’ decision today to join a global movement in its pursuit of justice and equality for all in Israel-Palestine is of paramount importance to moving on from a grotesquely unjust status quo. We hope to see this principled stand replicated in students’ unions across the UK as part of a wider movement to divest from, boycott, and call for sanctions against Israel until the rights of Palestinians, guaranteed under international law, are recognised.”
Meanwhile, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), said in a statement: “The passing of this motion is a failure of NUS to maintain its duty of care to the variety of student groups it must endeavour to represent, particularly with the International Students Officer voting for BDS”.
“NUS NEC have passed a policy that will only divide student groups, undermine interfaith relations, and suffocate progressive voices for peace on both sides”.