Israel minister attacks international boycott of illegal settlements

Israel minister attacks international boycott of illegal settlements
Erdan's stance defies international law, considering building settlements violate a number of UN Security Council Resolutions and are banned under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
2 min read
28 October, 2017
Settlements are illegal under international law [AFP]

An Israeli government minister slammed the international boycott of settlements in the West Bank, saying criticism of these illegal housing units on Palestinian land was akin to attacking Israel. 

Minister of Stratgic Affairs Gilad Erdan told AP this week that all boycotts against Israel - even against settlements which are considered illegal under international law - are "illegitimate".

"A boycott is a boycott. If you want Jews not to live there because you think that is preventing peace and you think it belongs to someone else, then in a democratic country you have the tool," he said. "Go convince people and go get a majority in the public that shares your positions." 

The combatitive stance of the minister is something that could put him at odds with some of his country's closest allies and the many American-Jews who strongly support Israel but object to its policy of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

It is also a stance that defies international law, with the building of settlements on occupied territories breaking a number of UN Security Council resolutions.

The settlements are also banned under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

A boycott movement - also called the BDS movement - advocates international economic disengagement against Israel in what supporters say is a non-violent way to promote the Palestinian cause. It has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel.

This is something conservative Israelis - including the minister - strongly oppose.

"My policy is to move from defence to offense... to expose the true face of the boycott activists. They have kidnapped the human rights vocabulary," he said. "They try to portray themselves as either human rights protectors or peace activists and the truth is they are neither."

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud Party has spearheaded the growth of Israeli settlements. Earlier this month, it was revealed Tel Aviv is planning to build 4,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank as part of a push to boost the growth of these illegal - usually subsidised - housing projects.

In February, Erdan spoke against the prospect of a Palestinian state, saying "no one thinks that in the next few years a Palestinian state is something that, God forbid, might and should happen".

"I think all the members of the cabinet oppose a Palestinian state, and the prime minister first among them - some [ministers] for reasons that might be ideological, biblical, and some from security considerations," Erdan told Israel's Army Radio.