Israel to Deny Tax Breaks, Government Bids From Local Groups Calling for Boycott

Implementation would require compiling a 'blacklist' of Israeli boycott supporters, sources say, on top of an existing list of foreign activists and groups

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Israeli BDS supporters protest in Tel Aviv, December 2017
Israeli BDS supporters protest in Tel Aviv, December 2017Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is set to approve in the coming days new regulations to prevent organizations and individuals who support a boycott of Israel from receiving various tax breaks or from participating in government bids. The new regulation will apply to Israeli citizens too.

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Officials in the Strategic Affairs Ministry - which initiated and wrote the draft version of the regulations on the basis of Israel's boycot law - expect a list of Israeli citizens and organizations who support BDS may be compiled, alongside the existing list of foreign groups that promote BDS.

Israel published in January a list of organizations whose activists will be barred from entering the country.

But Strategic Affairs Ministry officials said such a list for local groups and activists does not yet exist, and if and when the new regulations are approved, an inter-ministerial team will begin work on it under the supervision of legal advisers.

Finance Ministry officials said that anyone who is to be sanctioned under any new regulations would first be summoned for a hearing on the matter.

Israeli law does not distinguish between a call to boycott West Bank settlements and Israel proper. However it will be up to the inter-ministerial team to decide which group and activists will be included in list.

Sources in the Strategic Affairs Ministry said that the effort would focus on central groups and activists - including Israelis - and not on people who are critical of Israel and believe Israel should be boycotted. 

The move would prevent them from receiving benefits from the government or government contracts and jobs, said the officials. They said a "blacklist" would be complied of Israelis that head a non-government organization or another group that advocates the boycott of Israel.

The ministry is also working to advance an amendment to the Boycott Prevention Law that would allow the filing of civil lawsuits against boycott activists and organizations, the officials added.

Last year, Kahlon said he would act to deny charitable tax deductions for Israelis who make donations to Amnesty International, according to the Boycott Prevention Law.

Kahlon decided to take action against Amnesty International for a campaign in the summer of 2017, titled, “Israel’s Occupation: 50 Years of Dispossession," marking the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. The group called on its website to boycott West Bank settlement produce.

This was the first time the government implemented the controversial law, passed in 2011.

“We will use all the means at our disposal, including denying tax benefits against every organization that harms the State of Israel or IDF soldiers," Kahlon said at the time.

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