Despite its geographical setting in the Middle East, Israel is economically tied to western world. With this reference, examine the impacts of so called Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement on Israel. How it has affected the international relations of that country?
It is true that despite of its geographic setting in the Middle East, Israel is economically tied to western world. More than half of its imports come from the European Community and almost half of its exports go there. Since 1977, Israel had signed an agreement with the European Community and has received special association with it in terms of lower tariffs. In recent years, the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement has grown outside Israel. The BDS Movement is inspired from the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAP). It was first launched in 2005 by the Palestinian civil society, and consists of political parties, refugee networks, women’s organizations, professional associations, popular resistance committees and other Palestinian civil society bodies. The movement involves withdrawing all kinds of investments made in Israeli banks and companies, and putting political pressure on Israeli government to end any kind of military trade or free trade agreement with Israel. It aims to end of Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land and the Golan Heights, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and acknowledgement of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
This movement has affected Israel in all these years. In 2011, Israel also passed a law to criminalize the BDS campaign. This law has been widely criticized also.
As far as its impacts on Israel are concerned, we note that Israel has a long history of experience with boycotts and sanctions. Even before Israel was established, it faced economic boycott on Jewish community of Palestine by Arab League in 1946. This Arab boycott was there until 1990s when their impacts started melting away in the aftermath of Madrid Conference (1991) and Oslo Accords (1993). For many years, Israel had no diplomatic or economic relations with India, China or other such countries. India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1991, China in 1992 and other countries in Asia Pacific thereafter.
In current circumstances, it is hardly likely that BDS movement will go away but it is equally unlikely that Israel will be forced to change its Palestine policy because of BDS Movement.