Israel has defeated the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed at a Knesset hearing on Monday.
Under questioning from opposition Knesset members, Netanyahu defended his government’s handling of foreign relations despite serving as his own foreign minister since his reelection in March 2015. Netanyahu presented a color-coded map to illustrate the increasing number of nations that have forged (or are seeking) formal diplomatic relations with Israel. “People say we are isolated,” Netanyahu said. “What isolation are we talking about?”
“We are acting against BDS and this why they are on the defensive,” Netanyahu said. “They are taking hits of many fronts. We have beaten them.”
In a recent analysis for The Jerusalem Post, Benjamin Weinthal, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, illustrated Netanyahu’s point by describing a number of ways that the BDS campaign was suffering from “economic warfare with financial assaults.” Much of this stems from anti-BDS legislation passed by a growing number of states, including Illinois and New York, where multinational corporations have their headquarters. In one instance, the threat of being boycotted by New York state prompted Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank, to close out an account held by Germany’s BDS campaign.
In another case, G4S, a global security firm that does business in Illinois (among many other places), claimed earlier this year that it was halting some of its operations in Israel. But after Illinois passed a law mandating that it divest its pension funds from companies that boycott Israel, G4S explained that its decision to halt activities in Israel was made solely for business reasons, not to support a boycott, and that other arms of the organization would continue operating in Israel.
Last week, the tables turned on the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostella, when the Israeli airline El Al exited talks regarding starting direct flights to Tel Aviv after the city council passed a resolution in favor of boycotting Israel.
Since Palestinian groups first launched the BDS campaign in 2005, foreign investment in Israel has nearly tripled.
BDS leaders have repeatedly affirmed that the campaign aims to eliminate Israel. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”
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