UK public figures call for Israel sanctions

Jeremy Corbyn and Maxine Peake in 2018.

Jane Barlow ZUMA Press

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 effected 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.




This must stop ... like all racism.
More in common than apart.




Yes, we've all signed it. Good, of course, to see Crispin Blunt upholding international law. He rightly sees the implications of annexation: what will we do about Russia next time? However, it's important not to imagine that the 145 MPs who have signed are as resolute in their support of Palestinian rights as Corbyn. Margaret Hodge hasn't used offensive expletives to describe Stephen Kinnock because he falls in with the two-states dreamers (Jonathan Cook's term) which serves the Zionists well. Waiting for the two-states solution is like waiting for Godot. It is a Zionist ploy. At every turn over the past four decades they have rejected any possibility of two-states. It is the respectable veil behind which they hide their ugly nakedness for the body of Zionism is not pretty. It is Caliban, a monster conceived in delusion and arrogance. We are now at the point where the argument for a single-state must be made consistently and forcefully. There is no rational, democratic argument against it. The 145 signatories don't take that position. They oppose annexation because they can see the risks (including the huge risk to Israel). That doesn't necessarily make them supporters of the right of return or of equal rights for Palestinians. Netanyahu is trying to push out of the trap Israel has created for itself. If annexation goes ahead it may prove suicidal. The alternative for Zionists is to keep their knee on the Palestinian neck and twiddle their thumbs while whistling the two-states shuffle. They have constructed their own trap. There is a simple exit: equal rights for the Palestinians. They won't take it because their hubris is too blinding. Like Oedipus who was sure he was doing right and unknowingly constructed his tragedy, Netanyahu may well be arranging an outcome which will destroy not just him but the Zionist project. The signatures are welcome but unequivocal support for equal rights for the Palestinians is indispensable.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).