Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Haaretz reports that Israel’s Strategic Affairs Min. Gilad Erdan has been working for 7 mos. to advance a proposal to build a database of Israeli citizens who promote and support the BDS campaigns against Israel or its settlements in the oPt. He has already established an intelligence unit to collect such information on foreign activists. Atty. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit reportedly opposes the proposal, even if the information is culled from open sources such as the media and social networks. In response to the report, U.S. State Dept. spokesperson Mark Toner says that while the U.S. opposes boycotts, it supports freedom of expression “even in cases where we do not necessarily agree with the political views espoused.” (HA, JP, USSD 3/21; HA 3/22)

 Israeli PM Netanyahu says that the ongoing talks between Israeli and U.S. officials in Washington this week will not touch on the settlements in East Jerusalem. An Israeli official says that one of the topics under discussion is Netanyahu’s pledge to build an entirely new settlement to house the residents of the illegal Amona settlement outpost, which was evacuated and demolished in early 2/2017. (HA, TOI 3/21; HA 3/22)