TEL AVIV – Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said on Monday that he may revoke the residency status of Omar Barghouti, founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“The revoking of citizenship or residency is a tool that is hardly ever used because it constitutes a human rights violation,” Deri said at a Ynet and Yedioth Aharanoth conference aimed at combating BDS.
However, several terrorists from eastern Jerusalem have had their residency status revoked after carrying out attacks against Israelis.
Deri said that Barghouti lied about where he lived when filing for residency. Barghouti, who was born in Qatar, received resident status in 1994 after marrying an Israeli woman from Acre and claiming that he lives in Israel.
“And now it turns out it’s not true. I was given information that he lives in Ramallah and he is using his residency status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner,” Deri said.
“He was given rights similar to those of a citizen and he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world,” he added.
Meanwhile, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, who also spoke at the conference, called for a “targeted civic prevention effort” against BDS leaders.
Katz said that Israel’s intelligence agencies should monitor BDS activists who may be breaking Israeli law by being in contact with “elements hostile to the State of Israel.”
“This is an organization whose goal is to undermine the existence of the State of Israel. This isn’t about criticism of Israeli policy, which is a legitimate thing that we know how to deal with. They have a clear objective to destroy the State of Israel,” Katz said.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said the government was exploring legal ways of combating BDS.
“We hired the services of law firms abroad to examine the tools that can be used to deal with a decision like the one made by the EU to label settlement products from the West Bank,” Shaked said. “We take advantage of local legislation to fight BDS and we’re also promoting legislation in other countries.”
“We see a lot of successes recently because Israel is diplomatically active,” she added.
“When I meet with my colleagues, justice ministers from other countries, I feel that there’s great cooperation. Justice ministers around the world are great friends of Israel. They all love Israel and want to cooperate with it, especially in light of Israel’s experience in the war against terrorism,” Shaked continued.
Shaked said the BDS movement was motivated solely by hatred of Israel and by anti-Semitism.
“It has nothing to do with one policy or another of the State of Israel,” she said.
Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz echoed Shaked’s view.
“When states or groups or universities boycott Israel and then don’t take similar actions against Turkish companies investing in northern Cyprus or in any other territorial dispute – you see double standards only against the Jewish state,” he said. “If that’s not anti-Semitism, then I don’t know what is.”