Palestinian supporters this week asked a High Court judge to consider the legality of the Government’s ban on local councils boycotting foreign countries like Israel.
The judicial review, being heard in the Administrative Court on Wednesday, was initiated by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and challenges rules introduced in September last year by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
His guidance prevents local government pension funds from engaging in boycotts and the “ethical divestment” of companies accused of being complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
Last year the Jewish community welcomed news of the ban, after ministers said local councils should not be adopting their own foreign policy.
Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl said: “We welcomed the original Government announcement that legislative steps were to be taken against boycotts of Israel. Boycotts are objectionable, counter-productive and divisive on every level. We hope this will be confirmed following the judicial review.”
PSC chair Hugh Lanning said: “We have high hopes that Theresa May’s government will have more egg on its face after this court case. Everyone has a right to peacefully protest Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.
“It is reprehensible to forbid people from making decisions about where their own money goes, and forcing them to profit from human rights abuses. Yet another example of her government’s obsessive need to trample on local democracy.”
The Court will refer to EU law and pensions legislation among other things, and the case will be heard by Sir Ross Cranston, a Labour MP from 1997 to 2005 who was appointed Solicitor General by Tony Blair.