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British director Ken Loach has expressed support for a boycott on Israeli cultural institutions, giving the Palestinian figures behind the drive a significant boost.

Loach, who won the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival three months ago for his film about the Irish war of independence, The Wind the Shakes the Barley, has announced his support for the appeal to boycott Israeli institutions and even said that he urges others to do the same.

"Palestinians are driven to call for this boycott after forty years of the occupation of their land, destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of their civilians," said Loach in a statement.

"They have no immediate hope that this oppression will end. As British citizens we have to acknowledge our own responsibility. We must condemn the British and U.S. governments for supporting and arming Israel."

Loach, who directed such well-regarded films as Kes, Riff-Raff, and Carla's Song, also attacked his own government.

"We must also oppose the terrorist activities of the British and U.S. governments in pursuing their illegal wars and occupations," he said.

"It is impossible to ignore the appeals of Palestinian comrades," he concluded, adding that, "I would decline any invitation to the Haifa Film Festival or other such occasions."

Loach had received an invitation from the Haifa Film Festival in recent weeks. The director

The statement by Loach indicates that he is joining the ranks of international film festivals that have cancelled the participation of Israeli filmmakers, in the wake of IDF recent activity in Lebanon and Gaza.

The Lussas Documentary Film Festival in France was scheduled to devote a category this year to Israeli documentary cinema, but cancelled screenings of several of the films, following the outbreak of the fighting.