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7 Jan, 2018 16:09

BDS blacklist: Israel publishes activist groups barred from entry

BDS blacklist: Israel publishes activist groups barred from entry

Israel has released it so-called BDS blacklist - organizations whose activists will be refused entry to the country due to their support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

The names of the 20 barred organizations were revealed Sunday by the Strategic Affairs Ministry, reported Haaretz. Previously, the Ministry had refused to publicly release the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) member list.

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"We have shifted from defense to offense," Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said. "The boycott organizations need to know that the State of Israel will act against them and not allow [them] to enter its territory to harm its citizens."

Interior Minister Arye Dery, whose ministry will be responsible for enforcing restrictions on members of the list, added that the activists were trying “to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to defame the country.”

“I will act against this by every means," he said.

Included on the list are Palestine Solidarity groups in Europe and the US as well as BDS groups in Chile and South Africa. Jewish Voice for Peace has also been named as one of the banned groups.

The US organization, which is made up of Jewish activists calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, said in a statement that it was not surprised by the “bullying” act.

Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebecca Vilkomerson, said the policy will be personally challenging for her as she has family members in Israel.

The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign described their inclusion on the blacklist as “a badge of honor.” It also highlighted the move to ban Jews who “hold the wrong opinions,” as alarming for a state that labels itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Enforcement of the blacklist is expected to begin in March and will affect those who hold senior or important positions in the named organizations as well as key activists, even if they hold no official position.

READ MORE: Israel denies entry to 7 French officials for ‘supporting boycott movement’

Last week, the Israeli government approved a plan setting aside $72 million to fight BDS - the largest monetary investment to date aimed at combating the global boycott campaign.