Netanyahu declares global BDS movement ‘defeated’

Published July 26th, 2016 - 08:00 GMT
BDS protesters in Italy. (AFP/Vincenzo Pinto)
BDS protesters in Italy. (AFP/Vincenzo Pinto)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that his government has "beaten" a global movement to boycott Israeli goods, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu told a Knesset committee that the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement is "taking hits of many fronts. We have beaten them."

He was using the point to illustrate how Israel's foreign policy had remained strong despite not having a full-time foreign minister since elections in 2015, when Netanyahu retained the portfolio for himself.

Inspired by the international boycott against South Africa's Apartheid regime, the BDS movement was launched in 2005 by Palestinian groups to promote a boycott of Israeli companies "that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights" and cultural and academic organizations.

The group has often specifically targeted Israeli companies with factories in the occupied West Bank, including soft drink company SodaStream and cosmetics company Ahava, both of which have pledged to withdraw to Israel's pre-1967 borders.

While the movement has gained some traction internationally, Israel has sought to counter its influence by asking allied governments to restrict boycotts of Israel and this year the British government said it would penalize public bodies that adopted boycott policies.

Israel also had a temporary diplomatic row with the E.U. last year when the latter approved measures for all goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to be labeled as such, which Israel claimed aided the boycott.

By Kaamil Ahmed

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