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Protesters in Ramallah denounce Swiss anti-BDS bill

March 20, 2017 9:34 P.M. (Updated: March 21, 2017 10:29 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Protesters organized a sit-in on Monday in front of the Swiss mission in Ramallah to denounce a bill seeking to halt government funding for organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Switzerland’s National Council, the lower chamber of its Federal Assembly, voted in favor of the bill earlier this month. The legislation needs to pass through a vote in the Council of States in May in order to become law, Israeli media reported at the time.

One of the organizers of the protest, Issam Bakr, told reporters during the sit-in that the Swiss government was taking a "dangerous decision to go after BDS activists."

A statement signed by several Palestinian political factions called the Swiss move an "obvious breach of human justice and values."

The statement highlighted that the BDS movement came in response to escalating Israeli "aggression, Judaization campaigns, settlement expansion, ethnic cleansing, and daily murder" against Palestinians.

"Our people's rights are inalienable including the right of return, self-determination, and statehood," the statement added.

The BDS movement was founded in July 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.

BDS has gained momentum over the years, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the BDS movement, as the movement’s support base has expanded to include companies, universities, and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.

Earlier this month, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed an amendment into law forbidding entry into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory to foreigners calling for a boycott of Israel.
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