Israel Bans Entry of NGO Representatives Supporting Boycott

A general view shows the Arab village of Bartaa in Wadi Ara which straddles the Green Line between Israel and the Palestinian territories

Dubbed the "BDS Blacklist", - in reference to organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel - the list bars activists from 20 organizations from entering the country, according to Haaretz.

The NGOs on the banned list include the Paris-based Association France Palestine Solidarite, British charity War on Want, and the American Friends Service Committee - a Nobel Peace Prize-winning US Quaker organization.

During a visit to Brussels last month, Israel's Minister for Strategi Affairs Gilad Erdan told Jewish organisations that BDS was "on the defensive".

Declaring a "switch from defense to offense", the Ministry of Strategic Affairs on Sunday published a list of 20 global pro-BDS organizations to be banned from the country for their calls to boycott Israel.

Erdan said Israel had "shifted from defence to offence" with the publication of the list. "We won't end BDS until Israel ends its occupation", he said.

He added: "This blacklist is a repressive tactic borrowed from the same playbook used by the apartheid regime in South Africa, when it tried to censor critics". "No country would allow visitors who arrive to harm the country to enter it, and certainly not when their goal is to wipe out Israel as a Jewish country".

"Support for the BDS movement has been growing around the globe in recent years, as more and more people recognize the brutal reality of Israel's apartheid regime and almost 50-year-old military occupation of Palestinian lands", committee head Mahmoud Nawajaa said in a statement.

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"This merely reinforced FOA's support for the vital BDS campaign which is growing steadily".

Signs at a pro-BDS protest in NY following the USA decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In the years since its formation, the BDS movement has persuaded several church organizations to divest themselves of Israel-related investments and has garnered support on US college campuses.

Those who would be banned, the spokesperson said, were "the main activists who have demonstrated ongoing, consistent and significant action to promote and advance the boycott of Israel". The blacklist announced Sunday, which follows from that measure, identifies groups that are waging "a false propaganda campaign" and "undermining Israel's legitimacy in the world", the Interior Ministry said.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry was created in 2006 at the request of Avigdor Lieberman. One of them - the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) - acts as a co-ordinator for more than 40 pro-BDS groups around Europe, including some larger associations that are specified separately on the Israeli list. Most recently, pop singer Lorde joined a number of other performers who have canceled performances in Israel amid pressure from BDS activists.

Among the strategic threats identified by the newly created ministry include the BDS movement which calls for a cultural, academic and consumer boycott of Israel till it complies with global law, ends its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and blockade of Gaza.

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