The chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Camp), urged the government to formulate a clear policy for dealing with the BDS movement and boycotts against Israel.
”The notion that if we avoid talking about [the phenomenon] it will go away, is erroneous,” he said Monday during a committee meeting which was scheduled after the head of French telecoms group Orange, Stephane Richard, announced his support for boycotting Israel.
Israeli company Partner Communications Ltd. pays Orange International NIS 15 million a year for the use of its brand name. Partner`s incoming CEO Itzik Benbenisti clarified during the meeting that Partner is owned by the Israeli public and its only link to Orange International is the brand name. ”This threat is a precedent. Today it is Partner, and tomorrow it can be any other company,” he told the committee.
MK Eitan Broshi (Zionist Camp) called on the government to ”decide on clear measures” and said the ”ambiguity regarding the territories under dispute, such as Judea and Samaria, is jeopardizing the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp) said he was concerned by the possible repercussions of the boycotts, and MK Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid) criticized the government for not dealing with the issue ”in a determined manner.”
MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beitenu) said ”It all began on April 1, 1933 with the Nazis` call not to purchase goods from Jews. Since then, the motive behind the boycotts has been anti-Semitic. They are aimed at destroying the State of Israel, and the message should be that our strength lies in our unity.”
Ido Mizrachi of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs also said the BDS movement aims to destroy Israel, ”with the solution, as far as they`re concerned, being one Palestinian state.”
Foreign Ministry official Amir Ofek said most of the efforts to combat the boycotts are conducted in secret, while Einat Fischer, senior advisor to the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said the ministry is aware of the potential damage boycotts may cause. ”We are currently examining an extensive plan to deal with the BDS phenomenon through various channels, some of which cannot be specified,” she said.
Committee Chairman MK Cabel concluded the meeting by saying that in light of the ”unsatisfying” answers he has received from government officials, he planned to turn to the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Tzachi Hanegbi, and ask to hold a joint meeting to discuss the economic and political aspects of the boycott.
Cabel said the government must formulate a clear policy for dealing with the boycotts. ”If we remain silent, it will not go away. This is a new and sophisticated weapon that is being disseminated swiftly through the social networks. We cannot ignore the diplomatic situation either, nor the fact that standing in place provides our enemies with combustive material.”