Israel announces travel ban on pro-Palestinian boycott advocates

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The Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry on Sunday issued a list of 20 worldwide organizations, which will be denied entry to the country over their support for the "Boycott, Divestment Sanctions" (BDS) campaign against Israel, local media reported.

"The organizations named in the list released have undertaken ongoing, consistent and significant action to promote and advance a boycott of Israel", a statement said.

"We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations", said Kerri Kennedy, an AFSC official responsible for global programs.

Publication of the list comes nine months after Israel passed a law banning foreigners who support boycotting the country.

European groups on the list include BDS France; BDS Italy; War on Want; Friends of Al-Aksa; The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine; and Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, which was also blacklisted, said in a Facebook post: "Israel's decision to specifically ban JVP is 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".

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"The UK government must condemn this latest crackdown on human rights defenders". The BDS National Committee; BDS Chile; and BDS South Africa also are on the list.

The project will work to counter BDS pressure applied to artists, performers, and commercial enterprises not to engage with Israel.

Not every person who is a member of such an organization or who has expressed support for such an organization would be barred from entering Israel. It will focus on lobbying, public campaigns, solidarity visits to Israel for high-profile opinion-makers, social media campaigns and coordinated activities with pro-Israel organizations in North America and Europe. Only states that wish to protect their ability to act unjustly behave in this way.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs published the list after deciding together with the Ministry of Interior back in back in March, 2017 that entry to Israel would be denied to individuals associated with the listed organizations.

Erdan, who is the minister responsible for coordinating the Israeli government's response to the BDS campaign of boycott and delegitimization of Israel, acknowledged that "today we need a new approach to the fight against BDS".

In one published reaction by a BDS advocate to the new Israeli restrictions, the head of Jewish Voice for Peace in the United States emphasized her family connections to Israel. "The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organizations".