Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at the UK’s National Union of Students hours after it passed a motion to boycott Israel, calling the group hypocritical for singling out the Jewish state while it rejected an earlier motion to condemn the Islamic State group.
“They boycott Israel but they refuse to boycott ISIS. That tells you everything you want to know about the BDS movement. They condemn Israel and do not condemn ISIS; they condemn themselves,” Netanyahu said Wednesday, using acronyms for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and Islamic State, the radical terror group that has established a self-styled caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
“Israel has an exemplary democracy. We have academic freedom, press freedom, human rights. ISIS tramples human rights to the dust,” he said in remarks delivered alongside visiting Canadian Foreign Minister Robert Nicholson.
“It burns people alive in cages and the national student groups in Britain refuse to boycott ISIS and have boycotted Israel. It tells you everything you want to know about the BDS movement,” he said.
Netanyahu also took a swipe at Turkey and Iran for working to legitimize Hamas, the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, at the United Nations.
“At the same time, in the UN, we’ve seen Turkey and Iran vote to give Hamas affiliate status – Hamas. Hamas fires rockets on our cities while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, hiding behind Palestinian children. It tells you about international hypocrisy a lot,” Netanyahu said, referring to a United Nation decision to support the Palestinian Return Center, which Israel alleges is linked to the Gaza Strip’s Hamas leaders.
In October, UK’s National Union of Students voted against a motion put forward to condemn the Islamic State terror group on the grounds that such a move may be perceived as “Islamaphobic.”
At the time, British student groups released a statement shooting down the bill on the grounds that “condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia.”
The same student body passed a motion Tuesday aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, condemning Israel for its “military presence in the West Bank and Gaza,” and calling on the British Parliament to halt arms sales to Jerusalem.
The NUC is the UK’s umbrella student organization for some 600 higher education institutions representing 7 million students
In the wake of the vote, the British government restated its firm opposition to calls to boycott Israel.
The deputy British ambassador to Israel, Dr. Rob Dixon, reiterated the UK’s firm commitment to bilateral and trade ties and noted a “flourishing partnership” between the two countries.
“As David Cameron has said, the UK Government will never allow those who want to boycott Israel to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger,” Dixon said.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.