‘BDS is anti-Semitic and should be treated as such,’ said an appointee of Johnson’s party.
The UK’s newly elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he plans to pass a law making it illegal for public bodies to participate in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The announcement was made Sunday at the International Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s conference, in Jerusalem, by UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues representative Eric Pickles, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“BDS is anti-Semitic and should be treated as such,” Pickles said.
Referring to the UK Labour Party’s blowout loss in the election, Pickles also said that this was proof that the British people oppose anti-Semitism. “Antisemitism is an attack on the British way of life and British identity. Without our Jewish citizens we would be a lesser nation,” he said.
In 2015, Johnson, then mayor of London, told a BBC reporter, “I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say that you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or whatever or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region, is the only place that has, in my view, a pluralist, open society – you know, why boycott Israel?”
His Conservative Party manifesto, published before the election, clearly stated its opposition to BDS.
“We will ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, divestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries. These undermine community cohesion,” the document said. It also said that it would “stand against terrorism and extremism around the world.”
The Conservatives won 365 seats in the House of Commons while Labour only received 203 seats in the December 12 election. This is the Conservative Party’s best performance since 1987, when Margaret Thatcher was the head.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as President Reuven Rivlin, congratulated Johnson on his landslide victory, heralding this positive development in Israel-UK relations.