The British Parliament has overwhelmingly backed a bill that prevents UK councils from enforcing bans on Israel. It voted by 268 votes to 70 to ban all public organisations from imposing economic boycotts on countries that are not already sanctioned.
Communities Minister Michael Gove who sponsored the bill, said it was aimed at the anti-Israel BDS movement which stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanction. “The bill affirms the important principle that UK foreign policy is a matter for the UK government. It ensures local authorities focus their efforts on serving residents, not directing their resources inefficiently. And critically, it protects minorities, especially Jewish communities, against campaigns that harm community cohesion and fuel antisemitism,” Mr. Gove explained.
CBN News reports that British government leaders have criticised the cities of Leicester and Lancaster for boycotting Israeli goods. Both areas represent substantial Labour Party stakeholders and that party tried to block the vote before abstaining, allowing the measure to pass. Previous Labour Party leader Jeremy Corby had supported boycotts targeting Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, often referred to as the West Bank. Labour’s current leader Sir Keir Starmer has taken steps to root out the BDS movement.
Critics contend that Mr. Gove’s bill is too broad: “We recognise the problem that he says this bill is needed to tackle. It is therefore deeply frustrating that the government has introduced a bill that is so needlessly broad, with such sweeping draconian powers that he is faced with genuine legitimate heartfelt opposition from his own benches,” argued Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy,
Around 80 conservative MPs joined the Labour Party in abstaining from the vote.
The bill will now be considered by a parliamentary committee and the House of Lords before returning to the House of Commons.
If passed, Israel would be the only country in the world that a British public body could not divest from.
Meanwhile, a US Appeals Court has dismissed a legal challenge to a Texas law prohibiting businesses with state contracts from participating in the BDS movement. The ruling removes an injunction imposed by the lower court and affirms the constitutionality of anti-BDS laws in 37 American states aimed at curbing discriminatory practices against Israel and safeguarding US-based companies conducting business with or in the country.