Israeli Officials Lash Out After Kerry Mentions 'Talk of Boycotts'
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s mere mention (or interpreted mention) of the ‘boycott, divestment, and sanctions’ (or BDS) campaign targeting the continued occupation of the West Bank was enough to set off a barrage of angry responses from Israeli officials and lawmakers over the weekend, creating new diplomatic tensions as Kerry continues to push a U.S.-brokered peace accord between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
While speaking about the ongoing negotiations in Germany on Saturday, Kerry stated: “The risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. We all have a strong interest in this conflict resolution. Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100%, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity, there’s a momentary peace.”
Mention of ‘boycotts’—widely interpreted as meaning the international BDS movement which calls on companies, individuals and other parties to refuse to interact with Israeli entities that operate in the occupied territories and condemns what it sees as policies of apartheid by the Israeli government—met with swift rebuke by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli lawmakers.
For his part, Netanyahu called the international boycott movement both “immoral and unjust” and said: “No pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel’s citizens. For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal.”
And according to the Associated Press:
Later, a statement from the State Department tried to recalibrate Kerry’s initial statement, saying that the secretary in no way supports the idea of the boycott and that his remarks were misinterpreted.
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“Secretary Kerry has always expected opposition and difficult moments in the process, but he also expects all parties to accurately portray his record and statements,” said Jen Psaki, a State Department spokesperson.
But on Monday, as NewsMax reports, Israeli hardliners were not backing down:
Over the weekend, in a New York Times op-ed, Omar Bargouti—who helps lead the international BDS campaign and has written extensively on the issue—explained some of the origins of the movement and why he thinks the Israeli government is so fearful of it. To quote him at length: