The British wish to make something clear: boycotting Israel is wrong. In a strongly worded statement on Thursday, British Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock highlighted a new guidance from the UK government for public authorities in their nation that “makes clear that discriminating against members of the [World Trade Organization (WTO)], including Israel, is wrong and it is illegal and it must stop.”
The guidance itself, posted on the British government website, notes that the WTO international trade group has an agreement as part of free trade in which all members—including Israel—are prohibited handling suppliers unequally. As a result, notes the British guidance, “any discrimination against Israeli suppliers involving procurements would therefore be in breach of the Agreement.” Israel applauded the move, which follows comments from the EU opposing boycotts of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released by his office that included the statements by Minister Hancock, noted that anti-Semitism has long unfairly reviled and slandered Jews—making the British move a welcome contrast.
“Modern anti-Semitism not only attacks individual Jews, but attacks them collectively, and the slanders that were hurled over centuries against the Jewish people are now hurled against the Jewish state. We are once again being accused of being the source of all this tremendous instability around us that is plaguing the entire world,” noted Netanyahu.
“….So in this context that I want to commend the British government for refusing to discriminate against Israel and Israelis and I commend you for standing up for the one and only true democracy in the Middle East.”
Hancock was quoted as saying that trade between Israel and the UK is at “record levels,” while noting that opposing boycotts of Israel is the right thing to do.
Said the British minister of their anti-boycott guidance, “We do this because we believe in an open and free trade and we believe that discrimination is not appropriate and should be stood up to.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 18, 2016)