Israel bans members of boycott-supporting groups from entering country

Israel bans members of boycott-supporting groups from entering country

Israel has published a list of groups whose members are barred from entering the country for advocating boycotts of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, in a ban which could affect thousands of people.

One group listed is the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, which counts more than 13,000 members.

Groups from France, Chile and South Africa are also among those banned, although it is not clear how the ban will be enforced.

Strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan said the groups blacklisted are the main ones who "operate consistently and continuously" against Israel using a "campaign of incitement and lies."

The list is part of an Israeli effort against an international movement calling for boycotts, sanctions and divestment over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

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

"The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organisations."

The list is part of Israel's efforts against a grassroots movement known as BDS, which urges boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

The movement has urged businesses, artists and universities to cut ties with Israel and it includes thousands of volunteers around the world.

Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a non-violent way to promote the Palestinian cause.

Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for their state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimise or destroy the Jewish state.

Mr Erdan's office said the list would be provided to Israel's immigration authority.

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

"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.

"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," Jewish Voice for Peace wrote on Facebook in response to the decision.

Over the years, the BDS movement has persuaded several church organisations to divest themselves of Israel-related investments and has garnered support on US college campuses.

Most recently, pop singer Lorde joined a number of other performers who cancelled performances in Israel amid pressure from BDS activists.

However, other musicians have defied boycott calls and performed.

Israel has also enjoyed new economic partnerships and diplomatic ties despite calls for boycotts and it has become a top destination for international sporting and cultural events.

- AP

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