European Jewish Congress
Britain formally unveils proposal to discourage anti-Israel boycotts Guidance threatens 'severe penalties' for those in breach; minister behind the move visiting Israel this week
EJC in the Media
Britain formally unveils proposal to discourage anti-Israel boycotts Guidance threatens 'severe penalties' for those in breach; minister behind the mo...

The British government on Wednesday formally announced moves designed to discourage anti-Israel boycott activity. Under the proposed law, “discrimination against Israeli suppliers” would be a breach.

“Guidance published today makes clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the Government,” a statement issued by UK Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock said. “Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism. Locally imposed boycotts can roll back integration as well as hinder Britain’s export trade and harm international relationship.”

The guidance applies to “Central Government, Executive Agencies, Non Departmental Public Bodies, the wider public sector, Local Authorities and NHS (National Health Service) bodies,” the statement said. “Any public body found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties.”

It noted that the new guidance “complements existing Government guidance about trading or investing overseas (including with Israel), where we advise UK businesses to consider any potential legal and economic risks of doing so.” At the same time, the statement affirmed Britain's commitment to EU labeling of settlement goods, noting, “the Government’s existing policy support for clear and transparent labelling of settlement products to ensure that individual consumers are able to make informed choices before they buy.”

Hancock, who is visiting Israel this week, was quoted saying, “We need to challenge and prevent these divisive town hall boycotts. The new guidance on procurement, combined with changes we are making to how pension pots can be invested, will help prevent damaging and counter-productive local foreign policies undermining our national security.”

The leader of the European Jewish Congress praised the British government’s plan as proof that the UK is committed to outlawing “attempts to boycott Israel in word as well as in deed.”

Kantor wrote: “The bill will allow the government to prosecute universities, local government, councils, and student unions that back the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel

Thursday, February 18, 2016
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