UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

French Waterways holiday company blocks Israelis from website

A UK website specialising in French canal boat holidays has deliberately stopped people based in Israel from accessing its site. told an Israeli customer that the pages had been deliberately blocked for internet addresses for Israel.

If Israeli customers try to access many of the pages, they receive a message saying “Your access to this site has been limited by the site owner”.

French Waterways, which is based in both Oxfordshire and in France says on its website that it helps clients “compare and choose the most suitable and sublime vacation options, calling upon our own extensive waterways experience and familiarity with France, and the kinds of cruises available on her inland waters.”

It claims to be “the world’s most valued and most comprehensive source of inspiration and information about enjoying the rivers and canals of France” While it offers phone numbers for clients to contact them from the USA, Australia and Canada it appears that it actively discourages Israelis from its boating cruises.

UK Lawyers for Israel was alerted to this problem by an Israeli boating enthusiast, who had been trying to access the website.  When he called the company to ask them to unblock the pages, he was astonished to be told that the pages were deliberately blocked for internet addresses in Israel.

UKLFI wrote in January  to James Newcombe, CEO of, to inform him that his organisation is discriminating against Israelis in breach of the Equality Act 2010 (The Act).

Under section 9 of the Act, protected characteristics include nationality and race, including ethnic or national origins. Therefore Israelis would be a protected nationality and Jewish people would be protected as an ethnic group.

Under section 10 of the Act, another protected characteristic is religion or belief.  Since Jewish people form the majority of Israelis, by discriminating against Israelis, you would also be discriminating, indirectly, against Jews.

Under section 13.1 of the Act, headed “Direct Discrimination”,  “A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.”   In this case your company is directly discriminating against Israelis by treating them less favourably than others, in not allowing them full access to your website.

Under section 29.1 of the act headed “Provision of services, etc.” , the Act states that “A person (a “service-provider”) concerned with the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public (for payment or not) must not discriminate against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service.”

Section 29.2 says: “ A service-provider (A) must not, in providing the service, discriminate against a person (B)—

(a) as to the terms on which A provides the service to B;

(b) by terminating the provision of the service to B;

(c) by subjecting B to any other detriment.”

UKLFI have requested that the organisation lift the block on the pages, to allow Israelis to access them.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “It is not clear why a company should deliberately block Israelis from accessing their services, but if this is happening then it is clearly illegal as it contravenes the Equality Act 2010.  We hope that now that this issue has been highlighted to the French waterways website, they will take action and remove the blocks.”

Mr Newcombe has failed to respond, and many pages of the website remain blocked.