The British government, which Monday announced without any debate or parliamentary vote that it is banning public officials from participating in any boycott of Israel, now insists boycotting Israel undermines “community cohesion” and is a threat to national security.
The move came as quite a surprise, and is raising a lot of questions about the status of British government procurement as it relates to Israeli settlements. Previous EU guidance has warned against doing business with the settlements, illegal under international law, and the Scottish government had counseled procurers there to avoid any trade with the settlements.
The British ban only applies to public procurement, which is to say the government itself, from participating in boycotts of Israel, but does not forbid private entities from doing so. This stands in contrast to US law, which has forbidden for nearly 40 years any US citizen from boycotting Israel.
Indeed, the United States Commerce Department has an Office of Antiboycott Compliance whose sole job is to ensure Americans aren’t boycotting Israel, and to try to convince all Americans to report, on a quarterly basis, any requests they have received to boycott Israel.
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