Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd Darren Millar has written to the Labour-run Welsh Government to raise concerns over the planned issuance of a Procurement Advice Notice (PAN) which risks being both unlawful and “give[s] succour to the BDS campaign”.
Plans for the controversial PAN were recently unveiled by the Welsh Government. It is reportedly set to apply to the public sector in Wales and will “advise buyers that they may exclude from tendering any company that conducts business with occupied territories either directly or via third parties”. In an answer to a written question on the planned PAN, Israeli settlements in the West Bank was the only disputed territory referenced.
In his letter, the Senedd Member expressed concern that the PAN was “targeted primarily against Israel”, despite there being “dozens of disputed territories throughout the world”.
Mr Millar argued that the PAN would “send a regrettable message to Wales’s proud and historic Jewish community, many of whom will have familial and spiritual connections to Israel, that the Welsh Government is not committed to protecting good community relations for all its citizens”.
He adds that boycotts, divestment and sanctions “exacerbate community tensions” and that it would be a “regressive and crude act for the Welsh Government to give succour to the BDS campaign and interfere with a PAN that runs so counter to the prevailing message of peace”, as Israel reaches peace deals with Gulf neighbours.
The planned PAN stands in contrast to the forthcoming legislation introduced by the UK Government which will ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts against foreign countries. 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”.
The MS further argues that the PAN “stands beyond the remit of devolved powers” because foreign affairs and the regulation of international trade are reserved matters.
In closing he contends that the introduction of a PAN of this nature amidst a pandemic where “Welsh citizens are looking to their local bodies more than ever to provide invaluable support” would be “heavy-handed” and “ill-judged”.