The charity Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) brought judicial charges against Leicester City Council, Swansea City Council and Gwynedd Council for discrimination, but the claims were dismissed.
All three local authorities had passed motions to boycott any produce coming into the cities from “illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, until such time as Israel complies with international law and withdraws from Palestinian occupied territories”.
The move to ban Israeli goods was made by Swansea council in June 2010, and by Gwynedd and Leicester councils in October and November 2014 respectively.
The case against the councils was described as “misconceived” by defence lawyers and failed on an analysis of the facts and applicable legal principles, according to BBC News.
Presiding judge Lord Justice Simon said: "The evidence is clear.
"The council resolutions did not override, or even affect, the lawful exercise of its public functions in relation to public supply or works contracts, and no contracts or potential contracts were affected by the resolutions."
Jeffrey Kaufman, a Jewish member of Leicestershire council, meanwhile said the authority had “picked on Israel” and described his “dismay” at the High Court’s resolution.
In its original review application JHRW likened the “divisive” council action to the boycott of Jewish shops in 1930s Nazi Germany, and emphasised “the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment of Jewish people” in the UK.
Today’s High Court ruling is an important victory for the Palestinian-led Boycott
The charity has announced its decision to appeal the ruling, which it described as “disappointing”.
JHRW claimed all three councils ignored their duty to eliminate discrimination and harassment of British Jewish people and to encourage strong community relations.
Placing an embargo on goods coming from parts of Israel also breached the councils' obligations to act even handedly in procurement matters, it was also claimed.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
Medics evacuate a wounded man from the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian rammed a vehicle into a bus stop then got out and started stabbing people before he was shot dead
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members carry the body of an Israeli at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence
Palestinians throw molotov cocktail during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank. Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have wounded several Israelis
Women cry during the funeral of Palestinian teenager Ahmad Sharaka, 13, who was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah, at the family house in the Palestinian West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun, Ramallah
A wounded Palestinian boy and his father hold hands at a hospital after their house was brought down by an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Palestinians look on after a protester is shot by Israelis soldiers during clashes at the Howara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus
A lawyer wearing his official robes kicks a tear gas canister back toward Israeli soldiers during a demonstration by scores of Palestinian lawyers called for by the Palestinian Bar Association in solidarity with protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, near Ramallah, West Bank
Undercover Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian in Ramallah
Palestinian youth burn tyres during clashes with Israeli soldiers close to the Jewish settlement of Bet El, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after Israel barred Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City as tensions mounted following attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded a child
Sara Apps, director at Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), told The Independent: "Today’s High Court ruling is an important victory for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and for democracy itself.
In February this year the government announced local councils, public bodies and student unions may be banned from boycotting Israeli goods in future as part of a controversial crackdown, a move Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called “an attack on local democracy”.
Ms Apps continued: "The UK government’s attempts to intimidate local councils into dropping ethical procurement and investment policies clearly have no legal basis. Councils can legally adopt policies which avoid or end links with Israel’s illegal settlements.”
Swansea council leader Rob Stewart described the High Court’s decision as “a victory for free speech”, while Leicester’s mayor Peter Soulsby reinforced the right of councillors to “discuss issues of concern to their electorate.”
The Independent has contacted all three councils for comment.Reuse content