|Netanyahu slanders BDS movement as Israel feels the heat||
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that pro-Palestinian groups advocating a boycott of Israeli goods were “classical anti-Semites.”
"I think it's important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are - they're classical anti-Semites in modern garb. And I think we have to fight them," Netanyahu said in a speech to a conference of U.S. Jewish leaders.
He was referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, sponsored by pro-Palestinian intellectuals and bloggers, which campaigns for a blanket boycott of all Israeli goods and denounces Israeli policies towards Palestinians, Reuters reported.
On its website, the BDS movement says Israel denies Palestinians "their fundamental rights of freedom, equality and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination and military occupation."
In a speech at the same conference earlier in the day, Finance Minister Yair Lapid reiterated his concern that Israel would be blamed if current U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians failed and could face European economic sanctions as a result.
At a Munich security forum two weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry touched a nerve in Israel by pointing to "an increasing de-legitimization" campaign building up against it internationally and "talk of boycotts" if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not end.
Israeli chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni has described the talks, which began in July, as "the wall stopping a wave" of economic boycotts. And she has cautioned that Israel could face the sort of isolation imposed on South Africa during years of apartheid.
Companies in Israel's largest economic partner, the European Union, have already started to signal their concern.
A large Dutch pension fund, PGGM, said last month it was divesting from five Israeli banks because of their business dealings with settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The boycott issue also grabbed headlines several weeks ago in a public rift between Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson and the charity Oxfam over her endorsement of an Israeli firm operating in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
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