Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – This week British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will receive a hero’s welcome from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he visits Israel on a mission to build trade links.
But the truth is that the British government has already given Netanyahu everything he could possibly want.
Consider the 2030 roadmap for UK-Israel bilateral relations, which ignored the occupation and defined Israel as a “thriving” democracy, signed by Cleverly before Netanyahu’s visit to London last March. And now we have the abominably named Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, which entered its committee stage in the Commons last week.
It delivers on a central objective of Netanyahu’s foreign policy – protecting Israel against the threat of international isolation by blocking public bodies from supporting sanctions, boycotts and divestment campaigns against Israel.
Most unusually, the bill singles out Israel, the Occupied West Bank and the Golan Heights for special protection. It thus puts not just Israel, but also the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Golan Heights out of reach of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. And not just that.
By conflating Israel with the territories it has occupied by military force, the bill flatly contradicts existing British foreign policy commitments.
Britain is a signatory to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2334.
This resolution, a formal commitment entered into by UNSC member states, “calls upon all states to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.
The protection granted to Israeli settlements in the new legislation makes a nonsense of Britain’s solemn UN commitments.
As BBC reporters Ione Wells and Tom Bateman revealed, a Foreign Office letter to Downing Street in May “suggests Moscow would use it to show the UK did not uphold the international rules-based system and was therefore ‘being hypocritical in our treatment of “annexed territory”‘ in relation to Britain’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.