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UC Riverside reaches deal with Palestine protestors despite potential legal issues

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(The Center Square) The University of California, Riverside reached a preliminary agreement with pro-Palestine protestors to take steps towards divesting from investments in Israel. However, due to a 2016 California law, it’s illegal for organizations that receive significant state funding from boycotting or discriminating against a country.

Under the agreement, UCR will post information on its investments online, create a task force to explore removing its endowment from UC Investments Office management and redirecting investments “in a manner that will be financially and ethically sound for the university with consideration to the companies involved in arms manufacturing and delivery.”

The agreement appears crafted to avoid mentioning Israel so as not to trigger AB 2844, a 2016 law that bans the state from funding or contracting $100,000 towards any individual or organization that boycotts specific countries. While earlier versions of the bill mentioned only Israel, the adopted version of the bill uses Israel as the sole example of boycotting a nation as discriminatory behavior.

“It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used to do business with or otherwise support any state or private entity that engages in discriminatory actions against individuals under the pretext of exercising First Amendment rights,” says AB 2844. “This includes, but is not limited to, discriminatory actions taken against individuals of the Jewish faith under the pretext of a constitutionally protected boycott or protest of the State of Israel.”

Pro-Palestine protests have disrupted operations at campuses nationwide, including those within the UC system. At UCLA, violence between protestors and counter-protestors preceded a large-scale pro-Palestine encampment clearout by state and local police.

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