UK-based NGOs slam restriction on entry to Israel

Renewed effort to fight BDS: Israel to block anti-Israel groups from entering the country

The Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry on Sunday issued a list of 20 worldwide organizations, which will be denied entry to the country over their support for the "Boycott, Divestment Sanctions" (BDS) campaign against Israel, local media reported.

The American groups on the list include the American Friends Service Committee, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace - the latter an overtly anti-Zionist group that operates outside the formal structures of the Jewish community, with financial support from the U.S. progressive Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

"The boycott organisations need to know that the state of Israel will act against them and will not allow them to enter its territory in order to harm its citizens", Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wrote in a Hebrew-language statement.

The organization is among 20 groups whose activists have been barred from entering Israel due to their support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

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The representatives of various United Kingdom -based non-profit organizations reacted on Monday to a recent ban on their members from entering Israel.

Israel's move elicited a variety of responses from the targeted groups, with some expressing disappointment and condemnation, and others hailing it as a "clear victory" for the BDS movement.

"We will not be bullied by these attempts to punish us for a principled political stance that increasing numbers of Jews and non-jews support worldwide", she said in a statement, while noting Israel's "erosion of democratic norms" and its "rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom".

"We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations", said Kerri Kennedy, AFSC's associate general-secretary for global programmes.

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Erdan said on Sunday that the groups "operate consistently and continuously" against Israel using a "campaign of incitement and lies".

Asad Rehman, the executive director of War on Want, one of the organizations blacklisted by Israel, said the move is part of a wider crackdown on the BDS movement.

"We will continue to stand up for peace and justice in Israel, occupied Palestine, and around the world". "They must also take immediate steps to hold Israel to account for its continuing violations of Palestinian rights through measures such as the immediate suspension of its trade relations with Israel, including the arms trade".

The blacklist follows up on a controversial law enacted by Israel a year ago which bans any activist who "knowingly issues a public call for boycotting" the country.

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BDS groups from around the world are included on the list as is the US-based organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, which is calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. At the time of its passing, a number of worldwide human rights groups joined members of Israel's Arab Joint List party in condemning the ban, arguing that global sentiment is overwhelmingly opposed to the occupation.

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