Law will be changed to stop council boycotts
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