UKLFI has helped leading Norwegian NGO, MIFF, to counter BDS proposals by the ruling coalition of Oslo Council.
Oslo is synonymous with the peace process between Israel and Palestinians, but the recently agreed political platform of its ruling coalition expresses its intention to “investigate the scope of action contained in the procurement regulations to not acquire goods and services produced in an area occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power” (page 22).
As in Ireland, the proposal pretends to apply generally, but statements by the politicians involved have made it clear that Israeli businesses in areas administered by Israel beyond the 1949 armistice lines are the only target.
UKLFI has assisted Med Israel for fred (MIFF), a superb Norwegian pro-Israel NGO with over 11,000 members, to write to Oslo’s Governing Mayor, Raymond Johansen, explaining why it would be illegal for Oslo Council to target goods and services produced by Israeli companies in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) or the Golan Heights.
The letter first points out that these areas are not in fact occupied in violation of international law and that the operation of Israeli businesses there is in principle lawful, as has been recognised by the UK Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of Versailles in France.
Accordingly, this paragraph of the platform does not apply to the West Bank and Gaza, but does apply to other territories that are occupied in violation of international law, such as Northern Cyprus and Northern Syrian (illegally occupied by Turkey), Western Sahara (illegally occupied by Morocco), and the Crimea, East Ukraine, Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia (illegally occupied by Russia). Almost an own goal!
Next, the letter points out that implementing the proposal against Israeli businesses and not against businesses in other disputed territories would breach Norwegian anti-discrimination law.
Finally, the letter shows that boycotting products of Israeli businesses would contravene European Economic Area (EEA) public procurement rules as well as the requirement of non-discrimination under EEA law.
Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive of UKLFI, said: “Norway is not a member of the EU, but it is a member of the EEA and EU public procurement rules apply, as well rules prohibiting discrimination under EEA and Norwegian law. We expect Oslo officials to realise that racist boycotts targeting Israelis are illegal and unacceptable.”
The fortress Akershus Festning in Oslo, Norway