Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Israel intelligence services step up propaganda war in attempt to beat boycott

Israeli spies have been ordered to dig up intelligence showing that supporters of an economic boycott are linked to terrorists and enemy states.

The strategy was presented at a ministerial meeting called to discuss how to respond to the growing number of foreign companies refusing to do business with Israeli entities operating in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. They are considered illegal under international law.

At the meeting, Yuval Steinitz, the Minister for Intelligence and Strategy, outlined a plan for a media blitz against organisations advocating boycotts.

His strategy includes intelligence agencies working to expose “their connection to terror organisations and enemy states”, the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Oxfam was accused of promoting an anti-Israeli boycott last month when it parted company with Scarlett Johansson, the Hollywood star, over her promotional work for Sodastream. The Israeli company manufactures products in a West Bank settlement.

Oxfam insisted that it did not support a total economic boycott of Israel, a campaign led by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, but merely opposed trade with the settlements. It argued that they were stifling the development of an independent Palestinian economy.

Britain also opposes a boycott, but continues to regard the settlements as illegal and not part of the state of Israel. Last month it rewrote its guidelines on British investment in Israel to warn of the potential reputational damage of doing business with settlements.

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv avoids products from West Bank settlements, as does the consulate in East Jerusalem.

In addition to new guidelines prohibiting European Union grants to, or investment in the settlements, Brussels is to issue new rules requiring the separate labelling of Israeli goods produced in the West Bank to allow consumers to make more informed choices about their purchases.

Last month’s decision by the second largest pension fund in the Netherlands to divest from Israel’s five biggest banks because of their links to the settlements sent new shockwaves through business and political circles. Norway’s government pension fund and Denmark’s Danske Bank announced their divestment from settlement-linked banks this month. more


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