BDS Founder Omar Barghouti Arrested In Israel for Tax Fraud

Omar Barghouti listens during an interview with the Associated Press in the West Bank city
AP/Nasser Nasser

TEL AVIV – The co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, Omar Barghouti, was arrested Monday for tax evasion to the tune of some $700,000 in income.

Barghouti, who lives in Acre in northern Israel, was arrested and interrogated by Israel Tax Authority investigators and released on bail by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court, though he surrendered his passport, the Globes business newspaper reported.

Barghouti, a Qatari-born Palestinian whose wife is an Israeli-Arab, is suspected of failing to report on $700,000 income from his company, National Computing Resources in Ramallah in the West Bank, and from speaking engagements over the past decade.

Barghouti is suspected of hiding the money he earned from his company, which sells and maintains ATMs and other equipment within the Palestinian Authority, in a bank in Ramallah. He also is accused of hiding money received from his lectures and a book he wrote in a bank account in the United States, police said.

Bank statements, credit cards and various other documents found in his residence supported the allegations, the police added.

Barghouti has been a leading proponent of the academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel. He said in 2013, “We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it. … I, for one, support euthanasia.”

Barghouti was given permanent residency in Israel after marrying his wife. He has a degree in philosophy from Tel Aviv University.

In March 2016, Interior Minister Aryeh Dery said he was considering revoking Barghouti’s residency. “I received information that his life is in Ramallah and he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner,” Dery was quoted as saying.

“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,” said Dery.


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