Israeli Blacklist Documents BDS Groups to be Blocked From Country

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

A Quaker organisation which received the Nobel Peace Prize for rescuing refugees from the Nazis during the Second World War is among 20 activist groups whose members will be barred from entering Israel over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group on the list, said it would continue to work for "peace and justice".

"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".

Interior Minister Arye Dery said the organizations on the list are trying to exploit Israel's law and hospitality and "defame the country". A number of individuals have been refused entry into Israel in recent months, including a prominent African theologian and official of the World Council of Churches.

"The boycott organizations are opposed to the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and are using the boycott as a means to undermine its legitimacy and existence", Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said in the release. "Israel's desperate attempt to counter the BDS movement with this latest blacklist, along with the millions of dollars they are spending on internet trolling and propaganda campaigns, will not stop our principled support of equality and justice for the Palestinian people".

"The boycott organisations must know that the state of Israel will act against them", Erdan said in a statement.

"No country would have allowed critics coming to harm the country to entry it", he added.

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Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, criticised the publication of the list, saying it was "disconcerting but not surprising given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom". "But I am also heartened by this indicator of the BDS movement's growing strength, and hope that it will bring the day closer when just as I go to visit my friends and family in Israel, so will Palestinian friends and colleagues be able to return home". Despite a French High Court ruling in October 2016 that the BDS campaign incites hatred and discrimination, the AFPS maintains a website page promoting the boycott of Israel.

"It also restricts the ability of Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory to exercise their rights of association for the purposes of family unification, for employment, and for cultural and political exchange".

"His commitment to upholding human rights and global law - ending the Israeli occupation, ending the siege on Gaza, opposing settlements in the West Bank - has never wavered", the group, one of the UK's leading pro-Palestinian campaigners, previously said in a statement.

In November, Israel denied entry to a United States employee of Amnesty International as part of its anti-boycott offensive.

Amnesty did not appear on Sunday's list.

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