In July 2023, JJP wrote to the office of the Labour Party Leader before the Second Reading debate, urging the Party to oppose this bill. Our letter is copied below.
3 July 2023
Office of the Leader of the Labour Party
Houses of Parliament
Dear Mr. Simpson,
re: the Labour Party’s reasoned amendment to the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill
We largely agree with this reasoned amendment.
It supports the right of public bodies to apply ethical criteria to procurement and investment decisions in addition to financial criteria, providing those ethical criteria are applied in all situations. It supports the rights of individuals to advocate for such decisions to be made.
Specifically, it supports “the UK’s long standing cross-party position” that the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Golan Heights are not part of Israel. Perhaps most important of all, the amendment criticises singling out the State of Israel for special protection against public bodies making ethical procurement and investment decisions, not given to any other country.
In all this the amendment supports international law and the right to free speech enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights.
However, we profoundly disagree with this phrase, “and recognising the impact selective and biased campaigns have had on the Jewish community in particular”. Based on the evidence of Israel’s policies, there is no doubt that campaigning against them is justified. We know that many in the Jewish community, well beyond our large membership, do not support those policies. The community is also split on the Bill.
We urge the Labour Party to vote against the Bill when the amendment is voted down, as it may well be in view of the composition of the House, rather than abstaining as we understand has been planned. The Labour Party should stand by its principles. We note from this morning’s newspapers that many Labour MPs are unhappy with an abstention and that many Conservative MPs are unhappy with the Bill.
You will know that we have recently written to the Shadow Minister for the Middle East , seeking a meeting to discuss the Labour Party’s reaction to the Conservative Party’s awful “policy paper” on bilateral relations between the UK and Israel, which was obviously intended as a precursor to the Bill. We intend to advocate vigorously against the Bill in both houses of Parliament
Parliamentary and Diplomatic Liaison Officer