(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
New regulations proposed by Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday seek to blacklist companies, organizations and potentially individuals who advocate a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
That advocacy is often referred to as support of BDS, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
According to Erdan’s proposal, a committee headed by the Finance Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Strategic Affairs Ministry would create a blacklist of organizations that have “consistently” called for a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements. Those companies would be subject to sanctions and restricted from obtaining Israeli government contracts.
“It is not enough for a company to say ‘we don’t want to do business’ [in the West Bank], what we mean is somebody who actually acts to make BDS anywhere in Israel, in his statements, in his website, in his social media,” Noam Sala, the spokesman for Erdan, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
The draft proposal sent by Erdan to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon does not specifically mention the West Bank, but it says companies that boycott goods or services produced in Israel or “in areas under [Israeli] control” could be subject to sanctions.
Erdan’s draft has yet to be approved by the Finance Ministry.
“While the general agreement for this proposal was made between Kahlon and Erdan months ago, Erdan’s office only sent us his recommendations last night,” Omri Harush, Kahlon’s spokesman, told the Post. “Now we have to sit down and go through everything, inspect the draft proposal and consider the current regulations, and then we will decide what the Finance Ministry will do about it.”
Some analysts have suggested it is pointless to sanction companies that do not participate in the Israeli market, although many large companies that work in Israel do not work over the Green Line. Nevertheless, they point out, companies and organizations that officially support and advance BDS do not bid on Israeli tenders, and do not receive financial benefits – such as tax discounts – since they have no operations here.
“There are various considerations here and legal nuances. Once the full draft proposal is made public we will see what exactly is defined by it. We will not do anything that is unnecessary,” Harush said.
Erdan’s draft also allows the sanctioning of individual employees of companies or NGOs who advocate boycotts of Israel or Israeli settlements.
“If somebody in Intel goes on his Facebook and says ‘I support boycotting Israel,’ we will ask the management of the company if they support the statement of the employee,” said Sala.
Omer Moav, economics professor at the University of Warwick and at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, told the Post that the possibility of Israel disengaging from a big multinational corporation or saying no to big business on the basis of a CEO not recognizing the settlements as part of Israel, “is highly unlikely.”