According to a report published on Saturday by the British-based Daily Telegraph, the British government is getting ready to introduce a measure that will forbid local governments and other public institutions from boycotting Israeli products.
Michael Gove, the minister in charge of local government, was scheduled to unveil the legislation, which would purportedly “significantly” punish offenders.
According to Gove, who spoke to the Telegraph, the law aimed to counter the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement since it is frequently accompanied by antisemitic rhetoric.
“It is simply wrong that public bodies have been wasting taxpayers’ time and money pursuing their own foreign policy agenda,” he was quoted as saying.
“The UK must have a consistent approach to foreign policy, set by the UK government.”
“These campaigns not only undermine the UK’s foreign policy but lead to appalling antisemitic rhetoric and abuse,” he continued.
“That is why we have taken this decisive action to stop these disruptive policies once and for all.”
A pledge to pass such a law first appeared in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto for 2019, the party presently in power.
A few months before her passing at age 96 last year, Queen Elizabeth II included this vow in her yearly speech.
Documentation that accompanied the queen’s speech used Lancaster’s city council’s vote to support boycotts relating to Israel in 2021 and Leicester City Council’s equivalent action in 2014 as examples.
According to UK media, other councils have also started boycotts against settlements, including those in Swansea and Gwynedd.
Jeremy Corbyn, the previous leader of the opposition Labour Party, had backed boycotts directed against West Bank settlements but not Israel as a whole.
After receiving multiple charges of antisemitism and failing to do enough to stop antisemitic statements and party members, he was ultimately expelled from the organization.
Keir Starmer, Jeremy Corbyn’s successor, has made a concerted effort to disassociate himself from his legacy and combat anti-Semitism. Additionally, Starmer has emphasized that his party is unaffiliated with the BDS movement.
According to a statement from a Labour spokesperson on the new measure, “We haven’t seen the measure yet, so we will have to study it, but we have always opposed BDS and presented an amendment to the public procurement bill last year to prohibit councils from singling out Israel for special treatment.
The Conservative government’s lack of support for it disappointed us.