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UK: Tories to ban councils from boycotting products from Israel under manifesto plans

Image of protesters supporting the BDS movement outside Downing Street during Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the UK on September 9 2016
Protesters supporting the BDS movement outside Downing Street during Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the UK on September 9 2016 [File photo]

The Conservative Party will include in its election manifesto a ban on public bodies from boycotting or sanctioning foreign states, reported the Sunday Telegraph.

The report noted that “the policy will cover boycotts of products or divestment from pension funds connected to foreign states.”

However, the ban is primarily aimed at the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law and respect Palestinian rights.

Since its launch in 2005, the BDS campaign has grown into a global, civil society-based movement, with support amongst students, academics, artists, trade unions and local communities.

The reported stated that the Conservatives’ pledge is designed to contrast the party with Jeremy Corbyn, who in February 2016 described efforts to “ban councils and other public bodies from divesting from trade or investments they regard as unethical” as “an attack on local democracy”.

READ: Guardian columnist peddles fake news to accuse Corbyn of anti-Semitism 

Affirming the right of local representatives to decide on the “withdrawal of investments or procurement on ethical and human rights grounds”, Corbyn stated at the time that “this Government’s ban would have outlawed council action against Apartheid South Africa”.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, a Tory source said they would “ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, sanctions or disinvestment against a foreign country”.

“Such local boycotts have undermined community cohesion,” the source added.

The report was welcomed on Twitter by a number of pro-Israel advocacy groups, who have long accused the BDS movement of “anti-Semitism”.

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