The MPs to contribute included CFI Officers Dr Matthew Offord MP, and Chloe Smith MP, as well as Robert Jenrick MP.
The debate, on ethical procurement for local councils, followed the Government’s announcement last month of new proposals to curtail anti-Israel boycotts by publicly funded UK authorities.
MP for Hendon, Dr Matthew Offord highlighted the double standards of those advocating boycotts against Israel: “It is a great pity that this has been promoted as a debate about local government when in reality it is just a thinly disguised attack against the legitimate and democratic state of Israel. Why has there been no discussion about the repression in other middle eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran? Why does the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions organisation spend all its time demonising Israel and ignoring Hamas and Hezbollah as they pour rocket fire down on Israel?”
He continued: “The premise of the debate has more to do with cheap political point scoring than with the lives of individuals. Palestinian workers would risk losing their jobs if such actions by BDS were successful and economic sanctions were directed against Israeli firms that employ them”.
Dr Offord said: “Indeed, reports of anti-Semitic attacks being perpetrated in Europe can be directly linked with the hateful rhetoric espoused by many BDS campaigners, and BDS founder Omar Barghouti has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Israel’s right to exist as a state of the Jewish people. But most telling of all is that the Palestinian Authority themselves do not support a boycott”.
Chloe Smith MP asserted: “I believe that it is wrong for councils to attempt to use local government pension funds and procurement practices to make their own foreign policy”.
Speaking in support for the Government’s recent announcement, she said: “First, it is wrong because foreign policy is reserved to Westminster as a matter for national Government. Having policy made in town halls can damage foreign relations, to the detriment of Britain’s national and international security”.
The MP for Norwich North continued: “My second reason for believing that it is wrong for local government to make their own foreign policy is that local boycotts in and of themselves can damage integration and community cohesion. That is highly unfortunate”.
Robert Jenrick MP stated his opposition to boycotts imposed by local councils, underlining that they were “likely to be totally counterproductive”.
The MP for Newark added that the “BDS movement has an impact on community cohesion, which is a negative one for many, particularly Israelis living in the United Kingdom and the Jewish community… A number of those involved in the BDS movement are linked to intolerance and to anti-Semitic behaviour, and they make life extremely unpleasant for Jewish people living in our communities”.
Click here to read the full debate.