Israel bans entry to members of groups promoting its boycott

08 January 2018

The members of 20 organisations - including one Jewish - that advocate boycott of Israel will be banned from entering the country. Israel's ministry of strategic affairs, a governmental department, has drawn up the list created to fight the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, known as BDS.

"The anti-Israel boycott campaign seeks not to promote peace but to undermine Israel's national security and existence," said minister Gilad Erdan. "The state of Israel will prevent groups working to undermine its security and core interests from entering Israel."

The list comes from a March 2017 law that allows Israel to deny entry to any nonresident who promotes a boycott of the country. The final list was worked out in collaboration with the interior, foreign affairs and justice ministries. The new regulations would take effect in March 2018, one year after Israel enacted the law enabling the ban.

Critics of the legislation took aim at the ban on Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing Jewish organisation that advocates the boycott as a nonviolent means of ending Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories even as it sought "security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians" as also a solution for Palestinian refugees.

"A new crack in the wall of the occupation," tweeted Ayman Odeh, an Arab member of Israel's Knesset. "Minister Erdan has decided to ban Jewish activists who oppose the occupation, although they are entitled to Israeli citizenship by the discriminatory law of return. Oppressive regimes have collapsed because of such internal contradiction."

According to a statement by the Strategic Affairs Ministry, those who have carried out ''significant, ongoing and consistent harm to Israel through advocating boycotts may be considered to have their entry barred.''

''The boycott organisations must know that the state of Israel will act against them,'' Erdan said in a statement. ''The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organizations.''

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