Parliamentary candidates are being urged to sign a pre-election pledge backing Israel and opposing boycott campaigns.

The initiative by the Israel-Britain Alliance (IBA), which is directed at those seeking election next month, asks candidates to back the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

The definition, which was adopted on behalf of the UK Government by Prime Minister Theresa May last year, has been criticised as having “a chilling effect” on free speech by some of the country’s top lawyers.

The IBA, which is a project of the Zionist Federation, have released the pledge which also asks parliamentary candidates to “oppose de-legitimisation campaigns,” after the lobby group’s efforts earlier this week succeeded in persuading some universities to ban Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) events.

IBA director Michael McCann, a former MP, said the pledge also committed MPs to push for increased UK-Israel trade because Israel “will be an important partner for Britain in a post-Brexit world”.

He said the pledge was important because “the policy of admonishing Israel for defending itself while ignoring violent Palestinian transgressions has been a failure and has to change… In addition the commitments that have been made by our current government in respect of anti-Semitism have to be further reinforced”.