Two senior government ministers announced Sunday the launch of a new interministerial committee to bar anti-Israel activists from entering Israel and deport those already in the country.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the committee will target supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to put Israel on a global blacklist.
“This is a necessary step, given the evil intentions of the delegitimization activists working to spread lies and distortions about the reality in our region,” Erdan said in a statement.
The two ministers decided to form the committee during a meeting earlier Sunday, according to a statement from police spokesperson Luba Samri. The police force falls under the aegis of the Public Security Ministry.
The statement accused dozens of anti-Israel groups of operating in the country to gather information to be used in “delegitimizing” Israel, and blamed activists in the West Bank for seeking to stir up protests among the local Palestinian population. It did not name any specific groups.
Last week, Channel 2 reported that Israel had deported a Swiss BDS activist who had arrived at Ben Gurion Airport through Sweden.
In April, Israeli officials refused to renew the travel documents of BDS campaign leader Omar Barghouti. An interior ministry spokeswoman told AFP at the time that Barghouti could not yet receive his travel documents since Deri was considering revoking his permanent residency.
“The minister wants to consider his status. He lives in Ramallah most of the time and part of what determines one’s permanent residency is where the center of life is,” she said. “His (BDS) activities are also part of this.”
An international movement, BDS calls for boycotts, sanctions and divestment from Israel in what it says is a nonviolent struggle against Israeli control over the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Israel says BDS’s goal is to destroy the country, and it has identified the movement as a serious threat.
Earlier on Sunday, the director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry said that Israeli government campaigns against the BDS movement have been met with some success. Sima Vaknin-Gil said the widespread international delegitimization of Israel still poses a threat, but said BDS activists were now “on the defensive.”