UK MPs back bill banning Israeli goods boycott

Lazy eyes listen


Despite opposition from Labour and several Tory rebels, UK MPs voted on Wednesday to support a Conservative government measure that proposes prohibiting public institutions in the UK from imposing boycotts on the importation of Israeli goods.

Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) The bill is the government’s attempt to combat the so-called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The Palestinian-led movement tries to convince UK institutions to suspend commerce or other forms of connection with Israel in protest of the state’s actions in its continuing war with Hamas.

The proposed bill, which MPs voted in favor of by a margin of 282 to 235, would make it illegal for public bodies, such as councils or universities, to be “influenced by political or moral disapproval of foreign states when taking certain economic decisions.” Israel is the only state explicitly mentioned in the text, in addition to Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Government minister Michael Gove, a staunch supporter of Israel and chief supporter of the bill, has warned that the BDS movement can “lead to appalling anti-Semitic rhetoric and abuse.”

The opposition Labour Party, which has faced accusations of anti-Semitism in the past, provided thoughtful critique of the law. Shadow Middle East Minister Wayne David wrote on Wednesday that, while “some people have used the cover of BDS to whip up hatred against Jewish people,” the proposed legislation is “riddled” with flaws.

David went on to say that the law harms “the starting point for any two-state solution,” primarily by considering the Occupied Palestinian Territories “as though they were in effect the same as the State of Israel.”

Senior Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, regarded as one of the party’s most prominent centrists, is among a tiny number of Tories who have spoken out against the proposal, claiming that it is faulty in numerous critical areas.