London School of Economics student union votes for divestment

The London School of Economics Students’ Union (LSESU) on 14 February voted overwhelmingly to call on its university and the National Union of Students (NUS) to divest from companies that provide military and commercial support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, condemning the decades of human rights abuses and systematic oppression that has occurred as a result.

A motion, brought to the weekly Union General Meeting of more than 400 LSE students by the LSESU Palestine Society, resolved to lobby the LSE and NUS to divest from companies that provide military support for the Israeli occupation, facilitate the maintenance of the illegal “annexation” wall or operate on illegally occupied land or within Jewish only settlements. With a six to one margin, the Union voted to support the aim of targeted divestment until companies cease such practices or until Israel ends its discriminatory oppression and colonization of Palestinian communities.

The Union also resolved to affiliate to the international campaign to end the siege on Gaza and engage in education campaigns to publicize more widely the injustices of Israel’s discriminatory polices. This includes working with Palestine solidarity organizations such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the British Committee for Universities in Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Zochrot and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, in a bid to end the legalized racial and religious discrimination in Israel.

This has been the result of much debate on LSE’s campus over recent weeks, following an earlier motion which acknowledged growing public comparisons made between Apartheid South Africa and the legalized ethnic segregation that has been imposed for decades by the Israeli state. As such, the original proposed motion was amended to provide consensus across the Union in unequivocally condemning Israel’s policy of ethnic segregation, with 339 students voting in favor of divestment compared to just 46 against.

Irene Calis of the LSESU Palestine Society stated: “This is an historic moment in the struggle for justice and peace for all citizens of the Middle East. It is time for us to demand our universities divest and stop funding Palestinian oppression. By putting political and economic pressure on the Israeli state, the student movement can not only show continued solidarity with the Palestinian people, but also expedite the end of the Israeli occupation.”

Emilano Huet-Vaughn, who spoke in favor of the motion, added, “The resounding support for divestment after lengthy debate shows growing awareness of Israel’s systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people and a disgust with the colonial settler regime in the West Bank, and the brutal siege of the Gaza Strip. As a result many LSE students of all backgrounds have voted to take a stand for justice, equality and human rights for all.”

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