Minister for the Cabinet Office, Rt. Hon. Matthew Hancock MP today met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he announced new proposals to curtail anti-Israel boycotts by publicly funded UK authorities.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Cabinet Office Minister underlined: “We are publishing new guidance for public authorities in the UK that makes clear that discriminating against members of the World Trade Organisation – including Israel – is wrong, it is illegal, and it must stop”.
Mr Hancock said: “We need to challenge and prevent these divisive town hall boycotts. The new guidance on procurement combined with changes we are making to how pension pots can be invested will help prevent damaging and counter-productive local foreign policies undermining our national security”.
PM Netanyahu praised the British government for announcing the new proposals, stating: “I’d like to give special mention to the British government for its refusal to discriminate against Israel and Israelis…I commend you for standing alongside the only democracy in the Middle East”.
Watch the full statements from the announcement in the video below.
The bill will allow the Government to prosecute universities, local government, councils, and student unions that back the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In a statement released today, the Cabinet Office said: “Boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism”.
The statement continued: “Guidance published today makes clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government”.
CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP has welcomed new legislation by the Conservative Government to block boycotts of Israel.
Sir Eric said: “This move is very welcome. The attempt by the irresponsible Left to demonise Israel is bad for British business, bad for the local taxpayer, and deeply damaging to community relations. It encourages anti-Semitism and strives to make a municipal foreign policy contrary to the interests of the UK”.
CFI’s Vice-Chairman, John Howell OBE MP, who is currently leading a CFI delegation of nine Conservative MPs to Israel, said: “This is a much-welcomed step by the Government to stop councils interfering in national foreign policy by boycotting a democratic ally. It’s fitting that the minister is making this much-anticipated announcement in Jerusalem with such a large delegation of MPs and cross-party peers in attendance”.
The plans were first announced last October ahead of Conservative Party Conference at that time, Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark had said the move would be a challenge to “the politics of division”. He emphasised: “Divisive policies undermine good community relations, and harm the economic security of families by pushing up council tax. We need to challenge and prevent the politics of division. Conservatives will provide the stable, competent and sensible Government that working people want to see”.
The Government’s rule change is a response to a number of Labour-run town halls endorsing and enforcing the so-called Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.