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Knesset committee hears criticism of government's secretive anti-BDS work

Image of Israeli parliament Knesset in session [Itzik Edri/Wikipedia]
The Israeli Knesset [File photo]

A Knesset committee meeting heard criticism Monday of the secretive nature of work being done by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.

As reported by Haaretz, at a session of the Transparency Committee, Zionist Camp MK Stav Shaffir – who heads the committee – “blasted [Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad] Erdan for concealing information concerning the ministry’s activities”.

“Since its creation in 2006,” Haaretz noted, “the ministry, receiving a yearly budget of 300 million shekels ($80 million), has requested to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Law, which all other government ministries are subjected to.”

READ: Texas teacher fired for refusing to sign anti-BDS oath 

Erdan’s ministry “often seeks to hide contacts with external organizations, claiming that exposing them would make its activities abroad more difficult,” the paper added.

Shaffir, however, told the committee that such secrecy “sends off a message saying it has something to hide, and harms not once the important fight against the boycott and Israel haters”.

Meanwhile, former head of the Foreign Ministry’s Media and Public Affairs Division, Arthur Cole, told the Knesset committee that “the state has allocated hundreds of millions [of shekels] to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, but there hasn’t been any visible change. We should check whether this isn’t a waste of public resources.”

Erdan told the committee that Israeli ambassadors abroad “are instructed not to work directly with the Strategic Affairs Ministry. The Foreign Ministry doesn’t really like our existence.”

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