Israel establishes committee to identify and deport boycott activists
Israel announced on Sunday a new task force that will seek to track and eventually deport individuals who support boycotting the country over their continued occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan announced the new initiative alongside Interior Minister Arye Dery.
Erdan said data would be collected on activists suspected of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, with a view to deport and deny future entry to Israel for anyone who is confirmed as a boycott activist.
“[The task force] is a necessary step in light of the malicious intentions of delegitimising activists who work to spread lies and twist the truth about the reality in our region,” Erdan said.
“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to crush any boycott and to state clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed.”
The statement went on to say organisations that support the boycott are gathering information to “delegitimise” Israel.
Israeli daily Haaretz quoted an unnamed government source who said a number of activists have already been identified by the government, and that they had entered Israel disguised as tourists.
The new task force will establish criteria by which an activist will be marked for deportation and barred from future entry, the government statement said.
Sima Vaknin-Gil, head of Israel’s Strategic Ministry, said earlier on Sunday that Israel is seen as a “pariah” state across the world because of activism against its near 50-year long occupation of the Palestinian territories.
“The bottom line is that today, among nations of the world, Israel is seen as a pariah state,” she said. “Our goal is that by 2025 no one will question whether the state of Israel has the right to exist.”
The BDS movement was established in 2005 to build economic and political pressure on Israel by campaigning for a global boycott.
The campaign has modelled itself on the boycott campaigns led against the former white minority government of South Africa, arguing that apartheid there is being replicated by Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Israeli officials have regularly identified the BDS movement as being a threat to Israel’s national security.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.