Fulvio Martusciello

Fulvio Martusciello

A top European politician has urged Israel’s supporters in the UK to lobby MEPs to support his bid to outlaw boycotts against Israel across the European Union.

Fulvio Martusciello, head of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, says his counter-boycott initiative will be a “legal tool” based on a 135-year-old French law originally designed to protect freedom of speech.

Martusciello, an Italian politician for Forza Italia, representing the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) in Brussels, urges support in this week’s Jewish News.

“Together with supporters from other EU political groupings, I will be launching a new initiative to create a legal tool against boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS),” he writes.

“This will take the form of a formal parliamentary resolution, based upon current French legislation that already outlaws many types of BDS… I hope that all UK supporters of Israel will lobby their MEPs to support my counter-boycott initiative.”

A spokeswoman added: “There is a similar law in France which prohibits discriminative boycotts. We will need to have three different political groups support it and to present it in the JURI (Legal Affairs) Committee in the European Parliament.”

This law dates from 1881 and sought to guarantee freedom of the press, but at the same time prohibited “discrimination or hate… by reason of their origin or their belonging or not belonging to a particular ethnic group, nation, race or religion,” says Jonathan Turner, chairman of UK Lawyers for Israel.

The law has been used to convict a mayor who sought to boycott Israeli products, a campaigner who placed ‘Boycott Israel’ stickers on orange juice in a supermarket, and a pro-Palestinian group who urged a boycott of SodaStream.