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Israeli companies on Danish bank Danskebank's blacklist
Israeli companies on Danish bank Danskebank's blacklist 
 
John Kerry, warns boycotts are around the corner Photo: EPA
John Kerry, warns boycotts are around the corner Photo: EPA
 
 

Foreign Ministry: We can't fight against European boycotts

Diplomacy has limited tools to combat boycotts initiated by commercial companies, says Foreign Ministry official: 'As long as Israel continues to build (in settlements), Europe will continue to ban'

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 02.02.14, 01:17 / Israel News

Warnings made by US Secretary of State John Kerry regarding imminent boycotts against Israel remind the diplomatic sphere of one of its most challenging threats.

 

 

Scandinavian banks have already added Israeli companies that operate beyond the Green Line to a list of businesses that should not be traded with, and against the backdrop of this blacklisting, a Foreign Ministry official admitted that "we cannot prevent this phenomenon."

 

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem is closely following developments in Europe, claiming that Israeli diplomacy has limited tools to deal with commercial firms that choose to sever ties with Israeli entities.

 

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"We cannot truly fight against the will to boycott us," said the Foreign Ministry official. Following the announcement of Danish bank Danskebank in regards to pulling out its investments in several companies, including Israeli firms, an inquiry conducted by the Israeli embassy in Copenhagen revealed that the Danish bank has no investments with any body related to Africa-Israel Investments Limited (AFI).

 

"There is a boycott fashion in Europe against Israel, but we're still not talking about a trend," the Foreign Ministry official noted. "In any case, the boycott is a phenomenon that is derived from the real issue, which is the construction in the settlements. As long as Israel continues to build, this phenomenon will persist and it will be difficult to prevent it without handling this political issue. There is no way to explain to the Europeans why the settlements are good, and why they should buy products produced beyond the Green Line."

 

Israeli companies on Danish bank Danskebank's blacklist
Israeli companies on Danish bank Danskebank's blacklist

 

The Foreign Ministry was supposed to present data regarding boycotts in a cabinet hearing that was canceled last week; the ministry was also set to demand from the cabinet to separate the boycotts initiated by government and countries to the battle against pro-Palestinian organizations and commercial entities. In a yet-scheduled ministerial meeting on the matter, Foreign Ministry officials are expected to stress that the two should not be confused.

 

"There is no way to explain the fundamental issue that troubles even our most prominent companies in the world. It is impossible to face the subject of boycotts while not facing the subject of settlements. That is the truth," said the Foreign Ministry official.

 

However, not everyone in the Israeli diplomatic field agrees with this analysis, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is certain that the issue of settlements is only an excuse for those who seek to boycott Israel. Lieberman believes that due to the process of "Islamization" in Europe, along with its severe economic crisis, European countries are working towards boycotting Israel in order to gain Arab funds.

 

Officials within the Foreign Ministry further warn, however, that as long as Israel ignores warnings made by both its allies and critics, the anti-Israel wave will increase.

 

Israeli diplomats in embassies in Europe have identified a negative trend that is on the rise, and a tendency to present a caring front towards Palestinians. "There are companies that decide to boycott Israeli companies because they want to be part of this wave," a Foreign Ministry source said. "In fact, it is almost impossible to do anything against it."

 

Amid dealing with dangers of boycotts, the war between the Foreign Ministry and Yuval Steintz's Ministry of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs is heating up. Steinitz demands that millions of shekels will be allocated to his office, so that he can deal with the boycott against Israel, but the Foreign Ministry rejected his plans. "This office only intensifies the problem. They already received many millions, and nothing happened. Those who think they can fight boycott are using the wrong terminology. We know how to operate in the political arena against governments and earn achievements. Regarding the boycott, this is not the way."

 

And how are the economy-related ministries dealing with the boycotts? Finance Minister Yair Lapid warns against the escalation of the boycott, and in simulations that the ministry conducted in preparation for possibilities of intensification of economic bans, a dire picture for Israeli economy was painted. The Economy Ministry is also closely following the matter, but at this stage refuse to get anxious.

 

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