UK to prevent public sector boycotts of Israeli goods

UK government to prevent public sector boycotts of Israeli suppliers and public organisations by fining them or cancelling their contracts

Photo by: AA (Archive)
Photo by: AA (Archive)

Hundreds of UK academics announce boycott of Israeli universities.

Local authorities and public sector organisations in the UK will be blocked from boycotting Israeli goods under new government rules which could impose a penalty if they discriminate against Israeli suppliers, the government said on Wednesday.

Procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate outside of where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government, the Cabinet Office said in a statement.

"Boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism," it said.

The government said the World Trade Organisation's Government Procurement Agreement required that signatories treat suppliers equally and, as a result, any discrimination against Israeli goods would violate the agreement.

Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock will visit Israel this week.

"The new guidance on procurement ... will help prevent damaging and counter-productive local foreign policies undermining our national security," he will say, according to a statement released previously by his office.

In 2014, the city council in Leicester decided to boycott goods from Israeli settlements.

According to European Union guidelines released in November products made in settlements on Israeli occupied lands must be marked as such rather than use a "Made in Israel" label. The EU considers the settlements to be illegal under international law.

TRTWorld and agencies