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Bristol students pass motion to divest from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank

A heated debate ensued at the AMM on Tuesday

Earlier this week, a motion was brought before the SU’s Annual Members Meeting to divest from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in a renewal of a 2016 motion.

The motion asks for the University to end financial links including investments, partnerships, collaboration and funding from such companies which facilitate the conflict.

It also attempts to persuade the University against buying any goods or produce which originate from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

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The motion emphasizes that kosher products which can only be sourced from West Bank settlements should be exempt from the boycott, in light of the SU’s commitment to providing kosher food at the University.

Although the motion was passed by students, a minimum of 1% of the student body needed to vote before the motion could become SU policy.

Given that less than 1% of the student body was present at the meeting, the motion will need to be discussed at the next quorate Student Council meeting.

Zoe Backhouse, Chair of Student Council, said: “There were some fantastic motions last night and we heard form more students in that meeting than any other AMM I’ve been to. Ultimately, it was a tough one to chair and I wanted everyone to feel their view was expressed.”

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The Proposer and Seconder made their cases

On the fact that the vote could not be passed she commented: “I’m looking forward to the next Student Council where we’ll hear the rest of the motions – and hopefully reach quoracy!”

Whilst the motion has provoked politically-conscious Bristruths, it has also caused disappointment within Bristol's Jewish Society.

This year's President of Jewish Society said: "The passing of the motion as a whole disappointed me because I and numerous other students felt that the language it included was offensive.

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One of the Bristruths posted about the motion

"The passing of the amendment to widen the boycott to other countries was a good move in not showing an anti-Israel bias but this was undermined by the rejection of the subsequent amendment which sought to take advantage of the wonderful academic research Israel could provide to our university.

"I am keen to see how the SU plan to implement a boycott of so many countries and I hope that a failure to do so successfully will highlight the ineffectiveness of boycotts compared to open, constructive dialogue."

On the other side of the debate, Layla Assam, proposer of the motion, believes that the result was a great achievement.

Layla told The Bristol Tab: "I am extremely pleased with the result — we need the BDS movement to put pressure on the Israeli government to go back to having real peace talks, to give the Palestinians their rights and to end the illegal occupation of the West Bank."

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