Law will be changed to stop coun­cil boy­cotts

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

THE GOV­ERN­MENT has an­nounced plans to amend leg­is­la­tion in or­der to stop lo­cal coun­cils launch­ing po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated boy­cotts of Is­rael.

Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Greg Clark said the move would be a chal­lenge to “the pol­i­tics of di­vi­sion”.

It will aim to stop coun­cils run­ning d i v e s t ment c a mpaigns against UK de­fence com­pa­nies and Is­raeli in­ter­ests.

The Con­ser­va­tives said min­is­ters had taken note of con­cerns about the ac­tions of some Labour-led author­i­ties that were threat­en­ing to “poi­son com­mu­nity re­la­tions and harm Bri­tain’s eco­nomic and in­ter­na­tional in­ter­ests”.

D e t a i l s o f t h e new mea­sures were an­nounced on Satur­day ahead of the Tories’ an­nual con­fer­ence in Manch­ester. The party said it was act­ing af­ter lis­ten­ing to faith lead­ers who were wor­ried about poli­cies that fuel an­ti­semitism.

It cited the case of kosher food be­ing re­moved­from­su­per­mar­ket­shelves­dur- ing last year’s Gaza con­flict and the con­tro­versy over the Tri­cy­cle Theatre’s call for the UK Jewish Film Fes­ti­val to re­turn fund­ing from the Is­raeli em­bassy.

A Con­ser­va­tive spokesman said Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn and trade unions were “urg­ing coun­cils to use their pro­cure­ment and pen­sion poli­cies to pun­ish both Is­rael and the UK de­fence in­dus­try”. The gov­ern­ment in­tends to amend leg­is­la­tion to stop the use of pen­sion and pro­cure­ment poli­cies for the pur­suit of boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions.

Mr Clark said: “Di­vi­sive poli­cies un­der­mine good com­mu­nity re­la­tions, and harm the eco­nomic se­cu­rity of fam­i­lies by push­ing up coun­cil tax.”

In the past year, Le­ices­ter City Coun­cil has adopted an Is­rael boy­cott pol­icy, and the au­thor­ity in Not­ting­ham dis­cussed a sim­i­lar mo­tion.

Mr Cor­byn said ahead of his elec­tion that he would sup­port a boy­cott of Is­raeli set­tle­ment goods.

Con­ser­va­tive Friends of Is­rael chair­man Sir Eric Pick­les MP said the gov­ern­ment plan was “very welcome”. Pre­ston Town Hall fly­ing the Pales­tinian flag

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