The United States will label the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, as “anti-Semitic”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, calling the movement “a cancer”.
Washington “will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic … We want to stand with all other nations that recognise the BDS movement for the cancer that it is,” Pompeo said in a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.
The BDS campaign is a non-violent people-led movement that aims to economically pressure Israel into providing equal rights and a right of return to Palestinians.
Modelled on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, it has inspired people from around the world to boycott businesses and academic and cultural institutions that have either a direct or indirect affiliation with Israel.
This includes companies associated with illegal Jewish settlements, those that provide services to the occupation, companies exploiting natural resources from Palestinian land and those that use Palestinians as cheap labour.
The UN human rights office has identified more than 200 companies linked directly or indirectly to illegal settlements, mostly from Israel and the US but also Germany and the Netherlands.
They include banking and tourism companies, as well as construction and technology firms.
Pompeo says will visit Golan Heights
Pompeo, who is in Israel as part of his last Middle East tour as US secretary of state, also said he would visit the Golan Heights, a territory Israel captured from Syria and occupied in the 1967 war.
“Today I’ll have the chance to visit the Golan Heights,” he said in Jerusalem on Thursday – a statement that marked a break from previous US administrations’ policy.
“The simple recognition of this as part of Israel, too, was a decision President Trump made [in 2019] that is historically important and simply a recognition of reality,” he said.
In March last year, Trump recognised the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights when he signed a decree alongside Netanyahu at the White House.
The move was condemned by the international community, which does not recognise the land grab, while Syria called it a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty.
Pompeo is also expected to become the first US secretary of state ever to visit the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.
The expected visit to the Psagot winery would be another dramatic break by the Trump administration with the international community – which sees such settlement enterprises as illegal – and the traditional US line on the Middle East conflict.