This week, Local Government Minister Luke Hall MP reiterated the UK Government’s commitment to its manifesto pledge to ban public bodies from imposing their own boycott, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns.
Mr Hall said that the UK will legislate on this issue “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.
He added that local boycotts “can damage integration and community cohesion, hinder exports, and harm foreign relations and the UK’s economic and international security”.
“Local authorities should not undertake boycotts that could undermine foreign policy, which is a matter for the UK Government alone”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously criticised public bodies for adopting their own “pseudo foreign policy against foreign countries” which “with nauseating frequency turns out to be Israel”.
In August, the Labour-run Welsh Government announced plans to publish a new Procurement Advice Note (PAN) for the public sector in Wales, advising buyers “that they may exclude from tendering any company that conducts business with occupied territories either directly or via third parties, including with Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory”.
The planned PAN stands in contrast to the forthcoming legislation proposed by the UK Government.
Concerns have been raised that the advice may be in breach of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism by singling out Israel despite there being over 338 ongoing territorial disputes globally.
In response to an oral question on the subject from Conservative Senedd Member Darren Millar last week, the Welsh Government has said it is taking “further legal advice before any further action is taken on that procurement advice note”.