Published in www.middleeastmonitor.com
Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has reportedly taken steps to strip Amnesty International of its tax benefits in Israel, barring Israeli donors from receiving tax deductions from their donations to the international human rights organization owing to its calls to boycott Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, Israeli media reported on Saturday.
According to Israeli media, Miki Zohar, a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, from the right-wing Likud party wrote a letter to Kahlon in which he accused Amnesty International of working to “persecute and slander IDF soldiers.” He reportedly wrote:
Amnesty supports illegal infiltrators and draft refusers, and works with all its might to harm the State of Israel
He then went on to request that the finance minister use the anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) bill passed in March, which banned foreigners who have openly expressed support for BDS from entering the country, in order to “immediately revoke Israel’s recognition of donations to Amnesty, since it is an organisation which encourages others to boycott all or part of Israel.”
In June, Amnesty International announced that it was launching a campaign to convince the international community to implement a full boycott of illegal Israeli settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory.
Slamming Israel’s “virtually total impunity” for its war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 1967, Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty called on foreign states to impose an “international ban on settlement products, a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel and Palestinian armed groups,” as well as full investigations by the International Criminal Court into crimes committed as part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“By banning settlement goods and putting in place laws and regulations that stop companies from operating in Israeli settlements, governments worldwide have an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of millions of Palestinians who have endured decades of injustice, indignity and discrimination” Shetty said at the time.
Amnesty International reportedly reacted to the calls for stripping the group from receiving tax benefits in Israel, which could greatly affect the amount of donations they receive in the country, by refusing to respond to “politicians’ populist initiatives.”
“When there is a need, we will reply officially to the authorised bodies, such as the Finance Ministry, and discuss the topics.”
The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.