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Israel advances law to keep fight against BDS secret

Image of a BDS march on 16 August 2014 [Alex Chis/Flickr]
BDS march on 16 August 2014 [Alex Chis/Flickr]

An Israeli bill aimed at exempting Israel’s attempts at combating the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and efforts to “delegitimise Israel” from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law passed its first reading in the Knesset on Monday.

According to a statement released by the Knesset, 25 Members of the Knesset (MKs) supported the bill, while 12 voted against it and one abstained.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan from the right-wing Likud party, who is in charge of combating the boycott movement, said: “Boycott organisations are spread out geographically and act in different areas. The organisations built a network of activity and act in coordination with the Palestinian Authority.”

“There is a campaign of falsehoods fuelling hate,” he added.

He also said that the fight against the boycott movement was a “battlefront like any other” and insisted that the Israeli government formulate a strategy for “running the campaign against this phenomenon”.

Read: Timeline: International attempts to boycott BDS

Part of that strategy, according to the Knesset statement, is to make Erdan’s efforts against the so-called “delegitimisation” of Israel completely secret, by exempting it from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law, which ensures that Israeli citizens and residents have the “the right to obtain information from a public authority”.

The bill aims to add the Strategic Affairs Ministry to a list of bodies that are exempt from the law.

One of the principles for success is keeping our methods of action secret…Since most of the ministry’s actions are not of the ministry, but through bodies around the world who do not want to expose their connection with the state

Erdan stated.

Israel has already imposed restriction on the entry of BDS activists into the country or into the occupied West Bank.

MK Nachaman Shai, from the Zionist Camp, said this bill was ”censorship in a costume.”

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