UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Welsh Government to replace Boycott Proposal with Wellbeing Guidelines

The Welsh Government appears to have dropped a proposal to advise Welsh public authorities to exclude from public tenders any company that conducts business with occupied territories, following UKLFI’s warning last August that this would be illegal.

The Welsh Government now says it will take “a more strategic and long term approach to support ethical procurement in line with the [Welsh Parliament’s] Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.” 

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Trefnydd wrote to UKLFI on 24 March 2021 explaining: “We are approaching a wider period of procurement reform linked to EU exit and the forthcoming Social Partnership Bill while COVID pressures have necessitated significant reprioritisation to support an effective pandemic response.  In this context I believe a more strategic approach that is aligned with long term priorities and processes is best pursued by the next administration after 6 May.”

As previously posted, the Welsh Government informed the Welsh Parliament on 11 August 2020 that it intended to issue advice to all Welsh public authorities that they may exclude from tendering any company that conducts business with occupied territories, whether directly or via third parties, “including with Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) warned the devolved Welsh Government in a letter of 21 August 2020 that this would contravene UK legislation and international agreements.

The Welsh Government said in September that the issue of the advice was “imminent”.

However, in October 2021 they wrote to UKLFI stating “We are seeking further independent legal advice on what is a contested issue to enable us to come to a balanced view. Hence, we will write to you in response to the concerns, as set out in your letter of 21 August, and detailing our intentions in early December before any advice is published”.

Jonathan Turner, UKLFI Chief Executive, said: “Being part Welsh myself and having spent much of my childhood in Wales, I am delighted that the Welsh government now appears to be prioritising the wellbeing of Welsh people instead of discriminatory and harmful boycotts”.