Council makes U-turn on its boycott pledge


A council has reversed its offer to end its boycott policy against Israeli companies.

The local authority in Swansea, south Wales, had said it would withdraw its policy following a series of High Court hearings.

But Swansea Council confirmed on Wednesday that it would not now alter its position because the six-year-old policy to boycott companies working with Israeli settlements in the West Bank was "correctly submitted, debated and voted upon" by councillors.

In a letter last month, lawyers for the council said it would drop the boycott if the pro-Israel activism group Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) agreed to end its legal action against the authority.

The issue was due to be discussed at a council meeting last Thursday, but was withdrawn before the session. JHRW said it would now return to the High Court and push for a judicial review of the council's position.

A JHRW spokesman said the council had "dishonourably reneged".

Rob Stewart, leader of the Labour-held council, called JHRW's claims "untrue and unfair," accusing the group of "an attack on democracy" through its "costly" legal challenge.

He said: "The motion has absolutely nothing to do with Jewish human rights or with any issues of race or religion."

Mr Stewart claimed that despite the policy still being in place, it had no practical effect because "non-commercial considerations are ignored during the council's procurement processes".

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