Changes to secondary legislation announced today will stop local councils from using their pension schemes or procurement processes to make political gestures, such as boycotting UK defence companies, according to The Times.
CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP, welcomed the Government’s decision, stating:
“This move by the Government 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.
“The boycotts also fail to understand the close integration between our two economies in medicine, biotech and high-tech software. One in six generic prescription drugs used in the NHS come from Israel.
“In the battle against cyber-terrorism Israel is a vital partner. Cooperation with Israel makes Britain a safer place”.
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. For example, in January 2015 Labour councilors on Nottingham City Council debated a boycott against Israel and Leicester city council agreed a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank last November. In recent years, four Scottish councils have chosen to boycott Israeli goods. The hardline, politically-motivated municipal boycotts are seen as having encouraged increasingly militant anti-Israel protests in recent years, which have included the pressuring of supermarkets to remove Kosher goods from sale.
Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “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”.
Matthew Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Conservatives are on the common ground. We will take steps to stop such outdated policies being pursued through procurement and pension policies. We will safeguard the security of families at home and prevent such playground politics undermining our international security”.
This week, 22 parliamentarians from around the world called on their government’s to divest from any company that supports boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, as part of the annual Israel Allies Foundation’s Chairman’s Conference in Jerusalem. A resolution drafted at the Conference states: “The delegitimisation and double standards applied to Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, are immoral, unjust and reminiscent of anti-Semitic rhetoric applied to the Jewish people in the past”.
One of the Conference’s participants, Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, said: “The proposal to label products from Judea and Samaria is against Word Trade Organisation rules, and we have committed to battle such discriminatory practices in our respective parliaments”.
The MPs wrote that companies that refuse to deal with Israel have questionable ethics and commercial soundness, and that government contracts with them oppose World Trade Organisation rules and international trade laws.
In May 2012, the Supreme Court of France ruled that publicly calling for a boycott of Israeli products constitutes incitement and discrimination based on nationality.