The UK government has moved to ban public sector bodies from imposing “procurement boycotts” on goods from countries such as Israel.
New procurement guidance has been published today, covering all contracting authorities including central and local government and the NHS, making clear such “boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate”.
“Any public body found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties,” said the Cabinet Office (CO).
The CO said the WTO Government Procurement Agreement requires signatories to “treat suppliers equally” and this includes the EU and Israel. “Any discrimination against Israeli suppliers involving procurements would therefore be in breach of the agreement,” said the CO.
“Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism.”
The government also intends to take action to prevent local authority pension schemes divesting from firms and countries on political grounds.
On a visit to Israel this week CO minister Matthew Hancock is expected to say: “We need to challenge and prevent these divisive town hall boycotts. The new guidance on procurement, combined with changes we are making to how pension pots can be invested, will help prevent damaging and counter-productive local foreign policies undermining our national security."