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Israel’s BDS list has a local angle

What looks like a move against the BDS movement could just as well be the latest battle in an ongoing turf war between government departments

    Security and diplomatic sources in Israel say there is nothing new about their policy on blocking the entry of pro-boycott activists into the country.

    The list of 20 organisations which was published on Sunday includes groups from Europe and the United States as well as three UK-based groups — Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al Aqsa and War on Want.

    All that is new is that the list has been made public for what appear to be domestic political reasons.

    The list is a selection from a larger number of organisations that Israel is constantly monitoring. When anyone known to be affiliated with them arrives at Ben Gurion Airport or at an Israeli border crossing, they are questioned. Sometimes they are barred from entering, though this is not always the case.

    A number of Israeli diplomats said that the list’s publication was a “bad move that has not helped our case around the world”. One government official surmised this week that there could be two reasons why the Ministry for Strategic Affairs published the list.

    First, it could be an attempt by the minister, Gilad Erdan, who is also in charge of the police as internal security minister, to improve his image among right-wing voters in a period in which he is being criticised for the investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    The second reason could, the official said, be an ongoing turf war between government departments over their portions of next year’s budget.

    The two ministries both claim responsibility for dealing with “delegitimisation” and countering the BDS campaign.

    Diplomats complain that, while the Foreign Ministry faces deep cuts to its funds, hundreds of millions are being spent new on anti-BDS programmes at the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

    We have been dealing with the issue for far longer, Israeli diplomats say.

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