Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – The government has been urged to rethink its plans to fine public bodies which initiate boycotts against Israel.
The proposals received initial backing but have been met with criticism from both Conservative and Labour MPs.
Labour says the bill undermines the UK’s longstanding foreign policy towards the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The party warned the bill also risked undermining support for people around the world facing persecution, as well as placing “unprecedented restrictions” on elected councils, undermining freedom of speech and having potential “widespread and negative impacts” on local authority pension funds.
The Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill seeks to prevent public bodies, including councils, from campaigning against, boycotting or sanctioning a particular international territory – unless that is endorsed by the UK government’s own foreign policy.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement calls for broad-based economic and cultural boycotts of Israel and Israel settlements – similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.
Such boycotts are backed by Palestinians who see them as applying pressure on Israel to end its military occupation.
Dame Margaret Hodge, who served in Labour governments under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said the proposed legislation was “flawed, poorly drafted and will have damaging consequences both here and abroad. It’s about using Jews as pawn in the government’s political game.”