Israeli ministry trying to compile database of citizens who support BDS
From Haaretz, March 21.
Senior officials say attorney general vehemently opposes Minister Gilad Erdan’s bid, arguing his ministry has no legal authority to collect information on Israelis.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wants to set up a database of Israeli citizens who are involved in promoting and supporting boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel or the settlements.
Senior Israeli officials noted that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is vehemently opposed to Erdan’s proposal, arguing that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has no legal authority to collect information on Israeli citizens.
Three Israeli officials familiar with the issue said that Erdan, who in his capacity as strategic affairs minister is responsible for coordinating Israel’s response to the BDS movement, has been trying to advance his proposal for several months. Erdan has already set up an intelligence unit to collect information on foreign BDS activists, but also wants to collect information on Israelis involved, and has discussed the matter with officials in other ministries, most prominently the Justice Ministry.
The senior officials said that Erdan and his people made it clear that the information would be assembled primarily from open sources — the media, the internet and social networks like Twitter and Facebook. But a few weeks ago Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht distributed a legal opinion that Erdan’s ministry had no authority to collect such information on citizens, and stressed that this was forbidden even if the information was solely from open sources.
The database proposal also came up during a security cabinet meeting last week that dealt with the government battle against the BDS movement. A senior official who is familiar with what was discussed noted that Erdan said there was a need for such a database since many Israeli citizens are involved in encouraging boycotts against Israel and cooperate with those foreign BDS activists against whom his ministry acts.
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