Israel imposes travel ban on 20 foreign groups for boycott movement

By Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 7, 2018 at 3:57 PM
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Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Israel instituted a travel ban on 20 international organizations promoting a campaign to boycott the Middle Eastern country over its policies toward Palestine.

Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs published a list Sunday of the 20 entities that will be banned from entering the country after Israel's parliament approved legislation to deny entry visas to foreign nationals who call for or promote any kind of boycott.

The ban includes individuals with senior positions at the listed organizations and establishment figures from various countries who have actively promoted the boycott.

The ministry said there is no intention to ban individuals who express political criticism of Israel nor those who hold Israeli citizenship.

Many of the organizations on the list are affiliated with the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" movement, or BDS, which discourages the purchase of Israeli goods and pressures international companies and celebrities to avoid doing business with or in Israel.

Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, said the country has "shifted from defense to offense" by publishing the list.

"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," he said. "No country would have allowed critics coming to harm the country to enter it."

Interior Minister Arye Dery said the organizations on the list are trying to exploit Israel's law and hospitality and "defame the country."

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

The Jewish Voice for Peace, one of two American organizations listed, shared a statement condemning the ban as an attempt to "punish us for a principled political stance."

"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," the organization said.

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