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Op-Ed video: Gove and Starmer have Palestinian blood on their hands

UK politicians repeatedly send clear messages to Israel that it can carry on doing what it wants, says David Hearst, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye

As Israeli snipers were shooting dead unarmed Palestinian minors in the Jenin refugee camp, British politicians were busy advancing legislation that seeks to outlaw solidarity with the Palestinians in the form of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.

Conservative Party politician Michael Gove stood in parliament to advance the second reading of the controversial Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, which seeks to ban public bodies, including local councils, from supporting boycotts targeting foreign governments based on moral or political grounds.

The legislation, which has gained support across the aisles in parliament, has been framed to specifically outlaw support for BDS, which seeks to pressure Israel into ending its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

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In his speech, Gove launched his attack on the BDS movement on two counts - that it fostered antisemitism at home and that it contravened British policy on the conflict, which advocates for a two-state solution.

He defiantly said that anyone who voted against the bill was "antisemitic": "The question for every member of this House is whether they stand with us against antisemitism or not," he said.

Despite reservations from some members of parliament, the bill passed after Labour's amendment was defeated, with 268 MPs voting in favour and 70 voting against.

David Hearst, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye, said impunity from Israel's two principal backers, the UK and the US, sent a clear message to Israel that it can carry on doing what it wants.

"Now, this was happening on the very night in which bulldozers were plowing their way through Jenin camp with 15,000 people crammed into half a square mile."

"You've got to ask yourself, is this an accident? Because cumulatively the outside world's refusal to react ... is the brightest of green lights to Israel to continue on its current path."

David Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was the Guardian's foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.
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