BDS founder Omar Barghouti arrested for tax evasion
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BDS founder Omar Barghouti arrested for tax evasion

Boycott activist suspected of stashing some $700,000 in a Ramallah account to avoid Israeli authorities

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

BDS activist Omar Barghouti at a pro-boycott rally in Ramallah, February 2016. (YouTube screen capture)
BDS activist Omar Barghouti at a pro-boycott rally in Ramallah, February 2016. (YouTube screen capture)

The co-founder of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel was arrested by tax authorities on Monday for failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income.

Omar Barghouti, who lives in the northern Israeli town of Acre, was interrogated and released on bail later that day under restrictive conditions that include the surrendering of his passport, the business daily Globes reports.

Bargouti is suspected of failing to report some $700,000 in income over the past decade, during which he served as the director of National Computing Resources in Ramallah. The company specializes in the sale and maintenance of ATMs and related equipment within the Palestinian Authority.

Barghouti allegedly hid the income by depositing it in a Ramallah bank account.

BDS supporters protesting in New York, October 2015. (BDS Facebook page)
BDS supporters protesting in New York, October 2015. (BDS Facebook page)

He also deposited honorarium fees received for lectures he gave around the world in a US bank account, thereby hiding the revenue from Israeli tax authorities, police said.

A search of his residence at the time of the arrest found transaction documents and credit cards to support the suspicions, according to police.

The BDS movement pushes for boycotts of Israeli products and institutions, divestment from companies and institutions “complicit” in the violation of Palestinian rights (through investments in Israel), and sanctions against Israel, such as pushing for the rejection of its membership in international forums.

Barghouti is a Qatari-born Palestinian who grew up in Egypt and married an Israeli-Arab woman, thereby gaining permanent residency status in the Jewish state. He studied at Tel Aviv University, where he earned a philosophy degree.

Barghouti opposes the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state as well as the two-state solution to the conflict.

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