Israel Has Moved From Defense to Offense Against BDS, Minister Says

Gilad Erdan explains what's behind Israel's refusal to allow members of European delegation to enter country.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan
Ariel Schalit

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Israel has a new policy against the BDS movement and is moving from defense to offense. Erdan made his comments on Tuesday in explaining an Israeli decision to deny entry to seven members of a delegation of European officials, based on a recently approved law that bars visits by anti-Israel boycott activists. 

“In principle it is always worthwhile trying to convince people that Israel is right, unless you know in advance that these people are not just fixed in their opinions but distort the truth, lie and spread incitement against Israel – and that is exactly this case,” said Erdan.

“I have set a policy of moving from defense to offense concerning the fight against [BDS]. We had information that a group wanted to come here – we received the information in an official manner from the Foreign Ministry – and the reason for the visit was identification with Palestinian prisoners and a visit to Marwan Barghouti,” added Erdan, referring to the Palestinian leader convicted and jailed in Israel for murder. “When we checked the background of these people we found they are also BDS activists who have promoted boycotts against Israel over the years, and so I prohibited their entry to Israel along with [Interior Minister Arye] Dery.”

Erdan said a normal country does not allow entry to people who come to collect and distort information about it. Other countries do not allow entry to those whose goal is to harm their country, he said.

Erdan also spoke about the recent wave of criticism of the police coming from his own Likud party, saying he would not allow legislation that harms the police’s work.

“Alongside the tensions in the north and south, we are also experiencing tensions between democratic institutions,” said Erdan. He spoke of the importance of the police’s independence, but at the same time said that in Israeli democracy the legislative branch oversees the executive branch, including the police – and specific legislation concerning the police cannot be ruled out. “This balance must be preserved,” he said.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted Sunday to support a bill that would prohibit the police from making their recommendations public about whether to indict senior public officials at the conclusion of criminal investigations.

Ministers also decided that the bill – which would additionally prevent the police from revealing the scope of their evidence – would not move beyond its preliminary reading unless both Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan allow it to do so.

Senior officials in both Shaked and Erdan’s ministries, including the attorney general, the state prosecutor and the police commissioner, have voiced their opposition to the bill, which is sponsored by Likud MKs David Amsalem and David Bitan.