Police minister said planning database of Israeli BDS activists
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Police minister said planning database of Israeli BDS activists

Justice officials reportedly oppose proposal on grounds Strategic Affairs Ministry isn't authorized to track citizens' political activism

Graffiti sprayed on a roadblock in the West Bank city of Hebron reads 'Boycott Israel' (AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)
Graffiti sprayed on a roadblock in the West Bank city of Hebron reads 'Boycott Israel' (AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)

Gilad Erdan, minister of public security and strategic affairs, is reportedly pushing for the establishment of a new database of Israeli citizens who support or advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

Erdan, who is also minister for public diplomacy and is formally responsible for any government efforts to battle boycott efforts, has been trying to advance the project for several months, the Haaretz daily reported Tuesday.

The report suggested the database could include a wide swath of Israelis who criticize West Bank settlements. But Erdan took to Twitter on Tuesday to criticize the report, saying, “We’re only talking about the key boycott activists who work together with the [international] BDS movement, and whose activities must be tracked in order to disrupt attacks.”

Erdan has already tasked officials in the ministry with gathering information on foreign BDS activists. The initiative to expand the collection to Israelis would come as part of that existing effort. On Twitter he said the database would only track publicly available information such as media reports and social media posts.

Ministry officials have met with several government agencies in recent months about the project, and reportedly encountered vehement resistance from the Justice Ministry.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends an induction ceremony for firefighting commissioner Dedi Samchi on March 06, 2017 (Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends an induction ceremony for firefighting commissioner Dedi Samchi on March 06, 2017 (Flash90)

According to the report, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit told Erdan his ministry did not have the legal authority to collect the kind of information on Israeli citizens that such a database would require. According to a legal opinion written by Mandelblit’s deputy Avi Licht, that authority lay only with the Shin Bet security service.

Earlier this month, the Knesset passed into law a bill that bars non-Israeli supporters of a boycott on Israel from entering the country.

The legislation, advanced by right-wing and centrist coalition lawmakers, allows the government to prevent foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of the Jewish state, or work on behalf of an organization that advocates such measures, from entering Israel.

The law also extends to supporters of boycotts of West Bank settlement products, resting on a legal definition of an Israel boycott in a 2011 law that includes all “areas under [Israel’s] control.”

It does not apply to foreign nationals who have a residency permit; nor can it apply to Israeli citizens, as the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty guarantees Israelis the right to travel in and out of the country.

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