Lancaster Council faces legal challenge over Israel boycott motion

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Lancaster Council faces legal challenge over Israel boycott motion

Pledge for legal challenge comes after town hall approves BDS motion against companies linked to the West Bank.

Lancaster City Council town hall building
Lancaster City Council town hall building

Lancaster City Council faces a legal challenge after passing a motion which urges Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) measures against Israel.

The motion, which was approved on June 23, expressed support for the BDS movement and urged Lancashire County Council’s pension fund to divest “from all companies active in illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine”.

UK Lawyers for Israel has written to the council’s chief executive, Kieran Keane, alleging the council failed its legal duty to “foster good relations” between people of different ethnicities and faiths.

The letter alleges that the council failed to uphold its public sector equalities duty in not consulting with representatives of the Lancaster Jewish community before the debate. 

The group is asking the council to not implement the BDS resolution and cancel any steps that have already been taken.

“Boycotts of Jews have historically been precursors of their dehumanisation and persecution,” said Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive of UKLFI.  

“Substantial research at US universities has found that the amount of BDS activity is the best predictor of actions that directly target Jewish students for harm. It is irresponsible to ignore this linkage.”

The motion was brought forward by Eco-Socialist Independents councillor Jack O’Dwyer-Henry, who represents the town hall’s University and Scotforth Rural Ward.

He had argued in proposing the motion that it would send a signal of opposition to what he labelled Israel’s “egregious and undeniable” human rights abuses.

Lancaster City Council declined to comment.

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