A new law passed this year is being used to prevent contractors providing services to the Scottish government from using Israeli equipment, goods, and services.
Scottish ‘external affairs’ minister Humza Yousaf has a long record of activism within government on the matter of Israel and has now spoken out against businesses with interests in the Israeli settlements, saying contractors doing business with them would be guilty of “grave professional misconduct”.
The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 was introduced to promote “public procurement processes and systems which are transparent, streamlined, standardised, proportionate, fair and business-friendly”. Passed as a means to help small and medium size businesses gain access to Government contracts, an area traditionally dominated by large firms, the legislation appears to be under threat of hijack by ministers with an axe to grind.
Although little known outside of Scotland, Scottish National Party minister Yousaf often finds himself in the papers following his outbursts and interventions on Israel. Following the publication of Scottish Government guidance to businesses on how to deal with Israeli companies, Yousaf was quoted by STV as saying:
“The Scottish Government strongly discourages trade with companies active in Israeli settlements which are recognised as illegal under international law.
“The exploitation of assets in illegal settlements by any company is likely to constitute “grave professional misconduct” for the purposes of procurement legislation.”
Speaking on behalf of the Scottish government in their parliament, Yousaf called for a complete embargo on British arms going to Israel earlier this month. This position goes far beyond the present official line which allows the export of defensive items, including parts for the crucial Iron Dome air defence system.
In the same week he used his influence as a minister of the Scottish government to call upon Scottish citizens to pay into a fund to support Gaza. According to an Israeli blog recording rocket attacks on the country, even as Yousaf spoke to condemn Israel, the country was under a bombardment from Gaza that lasted until midnight.
Mr Yousaf previously worked for the charity Islamic Relief, which has recently been criticised for making political statements about the eradication of the State of Israel at the expense of British government officials.