Israel has formed a new ministerial taskforce to deport home-grown boycotters and stop foreign-based boycotters from entering the country, in an effort to deal with the burgeoning Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, coordinating the initiative together with Interior Minister Arye Deri, said it was “is a necessary step in light of the malicious intentions of delegitimisation activists who act to spread lies and twist the reality in our region”.
Deri added: “We have the responsibility to do all we can to crush the boycott and say clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed.”
Their team, which was first announced last year after a parliamentary vote, will be charged with locating and expelling Israel-based BDS activists and with preventing boycotters from outside the country from entering.
It is not yet clear whether those advocating a partial boycott, such as of settlement produce only, will be deported or barred. Erdan and Deri said they would shortly be drawing up the criteria.
Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry director-general Sima Vaknin-Gil said: “The bottom line is that today, among nations of the world, Israel is seen as a pariah state… Our goal is that by 2025, no one will question whether the State of Israel has the right to exist.”
It is understood that Israeli intelligence has a list of names of pro-Palestinian campaigners who enter the country as tourists, some of whom have already been denied entry.
Earlier this month, Swiss activist Rita Faye became the first BDS campaigner to be deported from Israel, after she landed at Ben Gurion Airport. She has a history of harassing Israeli soldiers at checkpoint crossings.