Councils wanting to boycott Israel will be breaking the law, after the government announced this week that it would put last year’s guidance on a legal footing.
In February 2016, local authorities were told not to use pension policies to boycott countries in guidance issued by the Cabinet Office, but Communities Secretary Sajid Javid went further this week, revealing that it would now be unlawful to do so.
The move was welcomed by the Board of Deputies and Conservative Friends of Israel, as government officials said the rules were being put in-place to ensure compliance with World Trade Organisation rules, requiring all member countries to treat suppliers equally and without prejudice.
The new proposals make clear that “authorities should not implement or pursue boycotts other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the Government”.
This will mean that no council could boycott any country or industry unless restrictions have already been put in place by the Government.
“We need to challenge and prevent divisive town hall boycotts which undermine good community relations,” said Javid. “No council should be boycotting any company or country unnecessarily… We will clamp down on these inappropriate and needless boycotts once and for all.”
Former Communities Secretary and current CFI chairman Sir Eric Pickles said: “Attempts to boycott Israel are bad for Israelis, Palestinians, and the British economy, and are deeply damaging to community relations. These new regulations are to be warmly welcomed. The measures will further prevent politically-motivated council boycotts, which run counter to Government foreign policy”.
A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies said: “We warmly welcome the Government’s measures to prevent town hall boycotts against Israel. These boycotts are divisive and undermine good community relations. The new steps will ensure that all suppliers of goods and services receive equal treatment and do not need to fear prejudice.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.