Swiss parliament’s national council votes to defund BDS

The Swiss parliament’s lower chamber voted to defund indirect financial support to organizations that promote BDS and incitement to hatred against Israel. 

Switzerland’s National Council, its lower chamber in Parliament, passed a bill on Wednesday by a vote of 111-78, that would cease all funding to NGOs promoting boycotts against Israel and incitement to hatred.

“By incitement to hatred, we mean, for example, campaigns carried out by NGOs that may be considered as provocations by opposing groups or sovereign states,” the legislation states. “Under the term BDS campaigns, we include the notions of boycott, withdrawal of capital, or sanctions against opposing groups or sovereign states.”

The bill was introduced by Christian Imark, a National Council deputy from the Swiss People’s Party, who noted that Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry provides support to organizations that, “demand boycotts of and sanctions against Israel and engage in anti-Israel incitement, lawfare, as well as campaigns of anti-Zionism and racism, which call for the destruction of Israel and sometimes even have direct connections to terrorist organizations.”

Imark stressed that, although he refuses to take a clear position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Swiss government needs to track which organizations receive Swiss financial support.

NGO Monitor, an organization that researches funding and grants to anti-Israel organizations, noted, “from 2013-2016, the International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (IHL) provided a total of 2.38 million USD to organizations directly affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, while the Swiss government’s contribution amounted to approximately one-quarter of the total Secretariat budget.”

To that end, “the IHL Secretariat distributes 56% of its budget to NGOs that advocate for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaigns against Israel,” which means that Switzerland indirectly supports organizations that advocate an Israel boycott.

NGO Monitor, which helped provide the data to the Swiss government, praised the measure.

“Today’s positive developments in Switzerland are an important precedent in seriously countering BDS campaigns, antisemitism, and hatred,” said Olga Deutsch, director of NGO Monitor’s Europe desk.

The legislation will now be transferred to the Council of States, the Swiss parliament’s upper house, where it is expected to be voted on in May.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon spoke earlier this week of his plan to convene an anti-BDS summit at the United Nations.

By: World Israel News Staff