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UK-based NGOs slam restriction on entry to Israel

09 January 2018

Israel is fighting back against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by banning 20 groups that involved with the movement.

Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, said the blacklist is "a desperate attempt to silence a growing movement that is holding Israel to account for its systematic abuse of Palestinian rights, and persistent violations of global law".

A man protesting against Israel in Melbourne Australia
A man protesting against Israel in Melbourne Australia

Israel's blacklist includes: the France-Palestine Solidarity Association, the British War on Want, BDS France and Italy, the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine, the Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Muslims for Palestine, the Jewish Voice for Peace, the Code Pink and the National Students for Justice in Palestine.

The barring of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in the United Kingdom could theoretically extend to Jeremy Corbyn - the leader of the opposition Labour Party and a patron of the group, one of the major vehicles for BDS activism in the UK. "No country would have allowed critics coming to harm the country to enter it". "We won't end BDS until Israel ends its occupation", he said.

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"The UK government must condemn this latest crackdown on human rights defenders".

Rebecca Vilkomerson, who leads the group, said in an op-ed for Haaretz that she was "personally feeling the pain of exclusion for the first time from a place that I am bound to by deep ties". "This move is reminiscent of South Africa's apartheid regime which also prepared blacklists in order to punish people and prevent the entry of those opposed to its racist policies". Only states that wish to protect their ability to act unjustly behave in this way.

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The Ministry of Strategic Affairs announced over the weekend that 20 organizations, including six that are based in the USA, are on the list. 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.

The statement from Erdan said the NGOs being targeted were "the main boycott organizations which operate consistently and continuously against the state of Israel, while putting pressure on organizations, institutions and countries to boycott Israel".

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However, a spokesperson for the Labour leader revealed last month that Corbyn does not support the BDS movement. He called the blacklist "another step in our battle against the incitement and lies spread by the boycott groups".

UK-based NGOs slam restriction on entry to Israel