The British government confirmed on Thursday it will proceed with banning local councils from boycotting Israel, as the Conservatives promised in their election manifesto, the Jewish Chronicle reports.
"One innovation this speech introduces is we will stop public bodies from taking it upon themselves to boycott goods from other countries to develop their own pseudo-foreign policy against a country which with nauseating frequency turns out to be Israel," Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quoted as having said during the debate on the post-election Queen's Speech.
The platform of Johnson’s Conservatives endorsed legislation that would “ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries” because such policies “undermine community cohesion.”
Johnson’s Conservatives last week handily defeated the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, gaining 365 of the 650 seats in Parliament to 202 for Labour. The Conservatives gained 48 seats from the 2017 general election and Labour lost 60 in its worst showing since 1935.
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl welcomed Johnson’s initiative on Thursday, saying, "The Board of Deputies has long called for action on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in public bodies. This divisive activity intimidates Jewish communities in the Diaspora and does nothing to build peace in the Middle East.”
"We welcome the Government’s pledge today to take action. As Brexit goes ahead, we will continue to be in contact with Ministers to ensure that Britain’s anti-terror measures remain robust as we leave the EU’s umbrella on such matters,” she added.
"We also welcome the Government’s cross-party approach to social care helping to build a durable solution to this crisis,” said van der Zyl.
Luke Akehurst, director of We Stand For Israel, said, according to the Jewish Chronicle, "We urge people who want to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians to seek out the many productive and positive ways to pursue their activism and abandon the toxic prejudice of boycotts against Israel."
In 2016, the British government enacted measures to prevent public bodies from engaging in or endorsing boycotts of the State of Israel.
In recent years there have been several initiatives to endorse BDS in the UK.
In 2014, Britain's largest trade union, UNITE, voted to boycott Israeli companies in a unanimous vote.
In September of this year, the leaders of British trade unions passed a motion seen as endorsing BDS.
The nonbinding motion calls for prioritizing “Palestinians’ rights to justice and equality, including by applying these principles based on international law to all UK trade with Israel.”