UK Government has been ordered to crack down on town-hall boycotts, because they undermine community relations, poisons and polarizes debate and fuels Antisemitism.
A spokesman for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The Government’s decision to ban councils and other public bodies from divesting from trade or investments they regard as unethical is an attack on local democracy.
Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Any public bodies that continue to pursue boycotts will face “severe penalties”. However boycotting and sanctioning other troubled nations is still allowed, as long as it is not Israel.
People have the right to elect local representatives able to make decisions free of central government political control. That includes withdrawal of investments or procurement on ethical and human rights grounds.
Israeli companies, along with other firms which have investments in the occupied West Bank, have been among those targeted by unofficial boycotts in the past.
In 2014 Leicester City Council passed a policy to boycott goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Also Iceland banned imports on Israeli products from the West Bank.
While the Scottish Government published a procurement notice to Scottish councils which “strongly discourages trade and investment from illegal settlements.
Amnesty International’s UK economic relations program director Peter Frankental condemned the move, warning it could encourage human rights violations.
This way the Conservatives have been accused of turning a blind eye to Israeli human rights abuses in the past.
Not only would it be a bad reflection on public bodies to contract with rogue companies, but it would also be bad for responsible businesses that are at risk of being undercut by those that have poor practices.
The Independent / ABC Flash Point News 2019.