The Labour Party’s national executive committee has voted to boycott security company G4S, over its links to Israel.
According to reports, the committee passed the proposal to boycott the private security company that has provided its conference security in recent years by 12 votes to four, because it has links to what the Palestine Solidarity Campaign describes as “Israeli prisons which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel”.
It’s understood the decision took place on Tuesday evening after the Labour Party’s NEC meeting.
It is also believed that the majority of the NEC’s 33 members had already left the meeting, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson.
The vote took place on the same day that Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary urged the party to combat delegitimisation of Israel. At a Westminster lunch on Tuesday Hilary Benn told supporters of Labour Friends of Israel that the bonds between his party and the country were “strong and run deep”, however he did not spell out opposition to boycotts of the country.
Former Communities Secretary and Conservative special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, Eric Pickles, condemned the decision.
“The Labour Party’s boycott of G4S is stupid, pointless and damaging to British jobs. Labour seems to stumble from one fiasco another, engaging in gesture politics that ends up hitting British workers,” he said.
We Believe in Israel director Luke Akehurst, a former member of the NEC, said that he hoped the decision “would be reviewed as soon as possible.”
“I am shocked the NEC would casually pass a motion which both endangers the jobs of members of GMB union that work for G4S and which drives a coach and horses through the Labour Party’s long-standing policy against boycotts,” he said.
“This decision is not remotely consistent with the Labour Party’s stance against boycotts and hope it will be reviewed as soon as possible.”
The Fair Play Campaign Group, the joint initiative of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to co-ordinate activity against boycotts of Israel and other anti-Zionist campaign,condemned the move.
A spokesperson said: "The Labour NEC has decided to boycott G4S for providing the metal detectors and security guards that protect Israeli civilians from terror attacks. The NEC vote calls into question Labour's commitment to security and conflicts with the Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn's strong statements opposing the de-legitimisation of Israel.
"So what is Labour's policy now? This decision is pointless gesture politics and we urge Labour's General Secretary to ensure G4S is treated fairly and that this boycott is reversed."