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Chile’s National Comptroller Rules that Cities Are Prohibited from Anti-Israel Boycotts

Chile’s State Comptroller ruled that cities in Chile are prohibited from engaging in anti-Israel boycotts, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

The ruling was issued in response to complaints filed by Shai Agosin Weisz, president of the Chilean Jewish community, and members of the Chilean community in Israel, after the city of Valdivia banned signing contracts with Israeli companies.

In addition, Valdivia called for Israel’s ambassador to be expelled from Chile and boasted that it was the “the first municipality in Latin America free of Israeli apartheid.”

The complaint argued that Valdivia’s participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign violated Chile’s standard of equality before the law and constituted economic discrimination.

The comptroller ruled that even though Chile’s constitution allows municipalities a measure of independence, foreign policy is the province of the head of state. Additionally, the comptroller ruled that anyone involved in bidding on government contracts should receive “equal and non-discriminatory treatment” under Chilean law. Furthermore, the comptroller ruled that “arbitrary discrimination that is based on considerations such as nationality and that cause a deprivation, disturbance of threat of the exercise in fundamental rights” is prohibited.

Gabriel Colodro of the Chilean Community of Israel (CCHIL) told the Post that his group is “pleased to receive the positive response of the Chilean National Comptroller declaring that boycotts against Israel are illegal in the municipal field.”

CCHIL had filed three of the four complaints and was aided by ACOM, a Spanish pro-Israel advocacy group.

However, Colodro warned that Chile’s Congress was considering a BDS resolution.

“This will be voted on as a law soon, and it is in our hands to continue the path of seeking justice, fighting antisemitism and improving relations between our two countries,” Colodro said.

Three years ago the United Kingdom issued guidelines that would prohibit local councils from boycotting Israel. Though the guidelines were challenged in court, an appeals court ruled earlier this year that local councils  “should not pursue policies that are contrary to UK foreign policy or UK defence policy.”

[Photo:  3BRBS / WikiCommons ]