Scottish council imposes boycott of 'apartheid Israel'

One of Scotland’s smallest councils has implemented a boycott of Israel after comparing the country to apartheid South Africa.

Clackmannanshire Council said it would resist all economic and political support for Israel in order to “end suffering in Palestine”.

The boycott was implemented by 11 councillors after lobbying by anti-Israel activists from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The Scottish National Party-led authority has a combined population of around 50,000.

The Fair Play Campaign Group, which opposes boycotts, said the move was a “stunt” which would have “no impact on the real world”.

A motion was proposed at a meeting last week by Independent Councillor Archie Drummond. The boycott was passed with 11 votes in favour and five abstentions.

The policy condemns Israel’s “continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s east Jerusalem and the West Bank” and the “illegal blockade of Gaza” and backs the United Nations’ recognition of Palestinian statehood.

The motion concluded: “Just as individual sanctions against apartheid South Africa led ultimately to its demise there, so individual and collective sanctions against the state of Israel will end apartheid and suffering in Palestine.

“Clackmannanshire Council therefore resolves to resist, insofar as legislative considerations permit, any action that gives political or economic support to the state of Israel.”

Councillors made no mention of Hamas terrorist attacks or security concerns for Israeli civilians.

The SPSC claimed one of its members was responsible for lobbying Cllr Drummond and convincing him to back a boycott. Supporters were encouraged to write to the council offering “congratulations and thanks” for the policy.

Neither Cllr Drummond, nor council leader Gary Womersley, replied to repeated requests from the JC for explanations on how the boycott would work. The council said it “did not operate in a discriminatory way” and would “always do business within legislative requirements”, but would not comment further.

The Fair Play Campaign spokesman said: “The idea of Clackmannanshire Council having its own foreign policy is ridiculous. We urge the councillors to grow up and abandon this biased stunt of a motion.”

The Scottish Government said the boycott was a “matter for the council”, but pledged to work with both Israelis and Palestinians to take “the necessary steps towards a peaceful, two-state solution”.

In 2011, West Dunbartonshire Council discussed removing books by Israeli authors from authority-run libraries as part of a long-standing boycott policy.

Last updated: 10:00am, March 22 2013