Board of Deputies asks council leader to end “damaging and destructive” Israel boycott

By Josh Jackman, February 23, 2016
Jonathan Arkush

Jonathan Arkush

Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has told a council leader that its Israel boycott is “damaging and destructive”.

In a meeting on Tuesday morning with Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, Mr Arkush expressed his opposition to the council’s boycott of products “from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank”.

The boycott, which has been in place since November 2014, is the subject of a legal challenge from grassroots group Jewish Human Rights Watch, through a judicial review at the High Court.

In a statement, Mr Arkush said that he and his delegation had “firmly relayed to Sir Peter the very strong opposition of our community to boycotts of any description in relation to Israel and underlined how damaging and destructive such resolutions are to community cohesion and relations.

“We also highlighted the ill-informed and one-sided debate that preceded the passing of the resolution.”

Mr Arkush added that he had “repeatedly asked Sir Peter whether he would advise the council to rescind the resolution. To our deep disappointment, voiced in very clear terms, the mayor declined, stating that this was a matter for the council.”

When Sir Peter was questioned by pro-Israel advocates during a live Twitter Q&A on February 10, he denied that the council was boycotting Israel or Jews in general, explaining that the “council only focused on illegal settlements.”

A Leicester City Council spokeswoman said: “The council is an autonomous body made up of councillors who are directly elected by the people of Leicester. They are accountable to the people of Leicester, and are not subject to instruction by the city mayor.”

Last updated: 10:44am, February 24 2016