The Irish government has said that the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement represents a “legitimate” means of protest “intended to pressure Israel into ending the occupation.”
This is another blow to the Israeli campaign to criminalize Palestine solidarity activism, following an announcement by the Netherlands last week supporting its people’s right to join the BDS movement against Israel.
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In the Irish parliament on Thursday, foreign minister Charles Flanagan stated that “while the government does not itself support such a policy,” the BDS movement holds a “legitimate political viewpoint” and that the government does “not agree with attempts to demonize those who advocate this policy.”
Second blow in a week
This is the second major setback Israel has suffered this week to its campaign to delegitimize and criminalize the global movement within the European Union and other Western states.
Ireland is the third EU government to make such a statement in recent months.
Earlier this week, Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders said that “statements or meetings concerning BDS are protected by freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as enshrined in the Dutch constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.”
In March, the Swedish foreign ministry stated that BDS “is a civil society movement. Governments should not interfere in civil society organization views.”
At Israel’s urging, governments in the US, UK, France, Canada and elsewhere are attempting to introduce anti-democratic legislation, and taking other repressive measures to undermine the BDS movement.
Israel has also said that it is using its intelligence services to spy on BDS activists around the world.
Gilad Erdan, the Israeli cabinet minister charged with combating the global movement, described BDS activists as threats, saying they must “pay the price” for their campaign work.
“With the Netherlands and Ireland joining Sweden in defending the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights under international law through BDS, Israel’s attempt to get BDS outlawed in Europe and to bully its supporters into silence have been dealt a serious blow,” said Riya Hassan, Europe coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
“Israel’s attacks on our movement appear to be backfiring as they have led to European governments and some of the world’s most famous human rights organizations and political organizations across Europe and the world speaking out in defense of our right to advocate BDS,” Hassan added.
“Across European civil society, there is a fast spreading recognition of the BDS movement as a legitimate form of nonviolent, grassroots human rights advocacy for the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people,” Hassan said.