Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the US will regard the Palestinian-led boycott movement as “anti-Semitic” and cut off government support for any organisations taking part in it, a step that could deny funding to Palestinian and international human rights groups.
Pompeo announced the initiative during a visit to Israel in which he is expected to make the first-ever appearance by a secretary of state in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. Pompeo said he would also visit the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war.
“We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” Pompeo said, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
We will immediately take steps to identify organisations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups,he said, adding that all nations should recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is.
BDS organisers cast their movement as a non-violent way of protesting Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians modelled on the campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa. The movement has had some limited success over the years but no impact on the Israeli economy.
Israel views BDS as an assault on its very existence, and has seized on statements by some supporters to accuse it of anti-Semitism, allegations denied by the movement’s organizers. The official BDS website explicitly rejects anti-Semitism.
Pompeo did not provide additional details, and it was unclear what organisations would be at risk of losing funding. Israelis have accused international groups like Human Rights Watch of supporting BDS, allegations they deny.
Virtually all Palestinian non-governmental organisations support the boycott movement, but under President Donald Trump the US has already cut off nearly all forms of aid to the Palestinians, part of its unprecedented support for Israel in the decades-old conflict.