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Israel’s top court rejects petition seeking disclosure over government’s anti-BDS efforts

October 28, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Palestinians in Gaza protest against German Parliament decision on BDS, in Gaza on 23 May 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a number of activists who have sought to compel the government to disclose details about the state’s offensive against Palestine solidarity activism abroad.

According to a press release by rights activists, in rejecting the petition the court stated that “the disclosure of said information may harm the State’s foreign relations”, and also ruled that there “is no merit to the petitioners’ claim regarding lies, contradictions and disorder in the State’s claims”.

The case goes back to November 2017, when Israeli activists Rachel Giora, Sahar Vardi, Ofer Neiman and Kobi Snitz filed a freedom of information request “asking for the disclosure of information about the identity of the international law firms the Israeli Ministry of Justice employs in the struggle against the BDS movement and BDS activists in Europe”, and the nature of these firms’ work.

While the Ministry of Justice has disclosed partially-redacted documents, the government has “refused to fully disclose additional relevant documents, in order to prevent the disclosure of the identity of the law firms and the essence of their service, for which they are paid millions of NIS”.

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The petitioners argued that the Ministry of Justice is “obliged to exercise transparency towards the Israeli public, which has the right to know to whom the State is paying millions of NIS and what service is provided in exchange.”

The activists also drew attention to what they described as the “anti-democratic” and “military approach” taken by Israeli officials, highlighting “the decision to define civilians and civil NGOs in Europe as an ‘enemy; or a ‘red network’”.

Court costs amounting to 4,000 shekels ($1,132) were issued against the petitioners. The activists slammed the ruling, declaring that “the disorder, contradictions and lies which have been apparent throughout the legal proceedings exemplify the danger in the ministry’s decision to play war games and set up a ‘secret task force’, which conducts itself in an amateurish manner”.