Dundee backtracks on Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, May 19, 2011
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Dundee councillors will vote on whether to condemn Israel at a meeting next month. but a more extreme resolution, which called for a full boycott of Israeli goods, has been blocked by council legal officers.

The council's Liberal Democrat leader Fraser Macpherson, who has close associations with the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said he did not accept the council officers' ruling on the boycott motion and would ask for a reconsideration.

A statement from the SPSC complained that the original motion had been blocked by "non-elected officers, who blocked this by insisting that it is never legal to boycott anybody. This despite the wording of the motion being very similar to those already passed by the legal officers of West Dunbartonshire and Stirling councils. SPSC Dundee believes that council policy should not be dictated by, or debate silenced by non-elected officers who supposedly hold no political affiliations, and still hope that a vote will be taken on boycott."

A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: "Our legal department advised that EU rules mean that the state of origin of goods or services should not be a consideration when the council buys them."

The new motion will be debated on June 13. It compares the Palestinian territories to apartheid South Africa, saying: "The council recognises that apartheid was not acceptable in South Africa and it is not acceptable in Palestine."

It adds: "Dundee City Council, proud of its historic links with the people of Palestine and the past support it has given to the oppressed inhabitants of the region, condemns the government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of east Jerusalem and the West Bank and the illegal blockade of Gaza."

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy said: "While it may no longer be illegal, the new motion is still immoral."

Myer Green, of the Scottish Friends of Israel, said: "Fraser McPherson clearly sees the council as a vehicle to promote the singular agenda of the SPSC. How does engagement with international politics serve the interests of the local community? They are playing a suspicious game when they select Israelis as their sole target for condemnation".

    Last updated: 1:48pm, May 19 2011