This week, CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Commons) Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP said that new guidance from the Welsh Government stating that public bodies can divest from Israeli settlements shows a “lack of understanding on this most important of issues… at a time where reports of antisemitic incidents in the UK are at record levels”.
In an article for the new Welsh media platform Gwydir, the former Cabinet Minister wrote that the Welsh Government move is “in stark contrast” to the position of the UK Government, “which is currently preparing to legislate against public bodies engaging in boycotts of foreign countries”.
He added: “Political grandstanding by local authorities directly impacts upon UK foreign policy interests and, as a consequence, is regarded by many as already illegal and outside of the Welsh Government’s mandate”.
The Welsh Affairs Select Committee Chairman said that he had “seen first-hand the divisive and aggressive nature of ongoing efforts to delegitimise the Jewish State”, noting that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is “a favourite tool of the far-left to bash supporters of Israel and is often a vehicle for antisemitism”.
He wrote that the BDS movement’s “singular obsession with Israel means that its activities likely fall foul of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s modern definition of antisemitism, which was adopted by the Welsh Government in 2017”.
“By indulging the sort of boycotts promoted by the BDS movement, the Welsh Government risks giving the impression that it endorses its poisonous Israel-hating ideology”, he added.
Mr Crabb suggested that it would be “foolhardy” for the Welsh Government to play “the role of judge” in territorial disputes, noting that Spain, France and the UK itself has ongoing disputes with its neighbours. He noted that “a literal implementation of the new notice would mean that some of the world’s largest companies would be excluded from public procurement in Wales, including Veolia, Siemens, Renault, Allianz, Caterpillar, Bombardier, and Vodafone”.
“Many of these companies will currently provide important services to the public sector across Wales”, he wrote, making it a “disruptive self-defeating act to exclude these companies”.
CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman in the House of Commons underlined that “in the Middle East itself, Arab Gulf states like Bahrain and the UAE are making peace with Israel, recognising that there is far more to be gained from working together and cooperating in the fields of trade and security”.