British Secretary of State, Michael Gove, is due to push forward the UK Government’s long-anticipated plan to ban the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to prevent further boycotts against Israel, reported The Financial Times.
The British politician is attempting to curtail the freedom of public bodies from adopting “their own foreign policy” and expressed concern at how councils are financially supporting boycotts and divestment campaigns against foreign countries in the Middle East.
The BDS and Sanctions Bill follows a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to preventing local authorities from “adopting their own approach to international relations” – a move that pro-Palestine activists say is in place to help businesses profiting from apartheid Israel.
Moreover, according to officials, Gove and ministers, including British MP Oliver Dowden, are determined to implement the Bill before the next election. “We are firmly opposed to local boycotts which can damage integration and community cohesion, hinder exports and harm our economic security,” said the communities department.
It added, “The government remains committed to our manifesto pledge to ban public bodies from imposing their own boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns. We will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows.”
According to The Financial Times, one senior government official commented, “We’re expecting the green light very soon,” while another added, “It’s full steam ahead.”
It comes after Gove said last year: “The BDS campaign is designed for only one purpose: to attack and delegitimise the state of Israel and the idea that there should be a Jewish state at all.”
A seminar, organised by EuroPal Forum and sponsored by Mickey Brady, MP, held in the UK Parliament last month warned of the dangers of the UK Government’s impending anti-boycott legislation particularly in facing Israeli apartheid policies.
Dr. Sara Husseini from the BPC said, during the seminar, that the proposed legislation “needs to be viewed as part of the broader attempts by the UK Government to shield Israel from accountability while cutting down spaces for Palestinians to speak about their history, about their daily lived experiences of oppression and advocate for their individual and collective rights here in the UK.”
Such draconian measures by the UK, according to Sara, cannot be divorced from the UK’s other positions that pertain to the selective application of international law. Using the example of the UK’s relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), Sara highlighted the difference in the UK’s relationship with the Court vis-à-vis the situation in Ukraine, and the long-standing position of the UK to oppose the ICC’s investigation into the war crimes committed in Palestine.