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A motion to boycott Israel was overwhelmingly passed at the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) General Meeting on Monday 14th March. In what was described as a ‘landslide’, the motion, ‘Boycott Israeli Goods in EUSA shops and supply chains’ received around 270 votes in favour, with only 20 students voting against.
Despite the meeting requiring over 300 students to attend for it to be quorate and for decisions taken to be binding, the huge level of student support for the motion means that EUSA will be under severe student pressure to adopt it as official policy.
Proposed by students from Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine, the motion noted that Israel is an apartheid state and resolved to affiliate EUSA to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, to boycott Israeli goods in EUSA supply chains and shops, and to mandate the EUSA executive to lobby the University to do the same.
After the motion was discussed for around 15 minutes, it was put to a vote and the result was so comprehensive that no count was required. The passing of the motion led to rapturous applause in the George Square Lecture Theatre, where the General Meeting was held, and was by far the most welcomed result of the night.
Similar motions have been passed at SOAS, Manchester, and Sussex Universities in recent years. This latest result seems a clear indication that students in the UK are continuing to play a prominent role in the campaign for a just peace in Palestine.
The motion came in the wake of recent protests against Israeli officials speaking at the University. In February, student activists shut down a talk by Ishmael Khaldi, advisor to Israeli foreign minister Avidgor Lieberman, and, two weeks ago, over 100 students protested against the invitation of Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor to the University.
The proposer of the motion, second year Maths and Music student Daniel Beesley said “I am overwhelmed with the outcome of the General Meeting. It is great to see students of Edinburgh University once again standing up against injustice, just as they did during Apartheid South Africa. EUSA represents that views of students and we are sure they they will take on board what was clearly the opinion of the vast majority who attended the GM, and endorse the boycott.”
The motion’s seconder, Liam O’Hare, a student of International Relations, said: “Israel has occupied, ethnically cleansed and practised apartheid against the Palestinians for 63 years. The BDS movement seeks to force Israel to abide by international law and is gathering huge momentum year on year. I think the General Meeting proved that the student population at Edinburgh University do not want goods from an Apartheid state on campus and, despite the meeting narrowly not being quorate, I fully expect EUSA to act upon this motion.”