New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered agencies under his control to halt any business dealings with companies and organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel.
Cuomo was slated to make the announcement on Sunday at the Harvard Club in Manhattan before marching in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade later in the day, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Cuomo issued an executive order demanding that a list of businesses that back BDS directly or indirectly be drawn up.
The request was to be presented to the commissioner of the Office of General Services, who will have six months to compile the record “from credible information available to the public.”
I am signing an Executive Order that says very clearly we are against the BDS movement. If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 5, 2016
The companies will be allowed to appeal their inclusion on the list but once the designation process is complete, “all executive branch agencies and departments — which make up a large portion of state government — as well as public boards, authorities, commissions, and all public-benefit corporations will be required to divest themselves of any company on the list,” according to the report.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed the initiative, hailing it as “another victory in the battle against BDS.”
“Governor Cuomo’s announcement is another effective strike against those seeking to harm Israel,” Danon said in a statement to the press. “America is Israel’s largest and most important ally, and the governor’s initiative emphasizes this special bond.”
Alphonso David, an adviser to the governor, told The New York Times that the order will send a clear message to the movement that the state of New York was not on board with its message or activities.
“Our position is the BDS movement is deplorable, tailored to penalize Israel and tailored to inflict economic harm, so we take issue with it,” he said.
David said there was a difference between being engaged politically and seeking a debate on Israeli policies and saying “I’m going to sanction you or penalize you for engaging in commercial activity,” as the BDS movement does.
He further said he did not know how many businesses would end up on the list, but that he anticipates “it’s going to be quite significant.”
Cuomo has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and has made several trips to the country. He’s also attended several Celebrate Israel Parades in New York, including last year’s.
The BDS movement, started in 2005, campaigns for a global boycott of Israel until, among other demands, the country withdraws from all territories claimed by the Palestinians, as well as the Golan Heights.
In Israel and among many in Jewish communities abroad, the movement is seen as a nuisance, at best, and a threat to Israel’s image and economic activity, at worst.
Last week, Danon hosted an anti-BDS conference at the UN General Assembly in New York, the first of its kind.
More than 2,000 people, including students, activists, dignitaries, legal professionals and representatives of Jewish organizations, took part in the conference.