Israel Boycotts To Be Banned After Concerns They Create Anti-Semitic Sentiments
The UK government has announced a new crackdown on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, making it illegal for local councils, public bodies, and even some students to shun products from "unethical" companies.
According to the The Independent, all publicly-funded institutions will no longer have the choice to refuse to purchase goods and services from companies in the Israeli West Bank, or companies involved in arms trade, tobacco products, or fossil fuels.
Ministers said that any public bodies which continue to boycott such companies will be "severely punished."
Government sources said they were pursuing the ban on boycotts on grounds that they “undermined good community relations, poisoned and polarised debate and fuelled anti-Semitism.”
Critics of the move, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have denounced it as a “gross attack on democratic freedoms."
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement, “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. This Government’s ban would have outlawed council action against apartheid South Africa."
Israeli and foreign companies with operations on West Bank settlements have been a target of such boycotts in the
UK, as well as by the wider BDS movement worldwide.