Photo Credit: Gideon Markowicz / Flash 90
Gilad Erdan.

(JNi.media) Following many months of preparation and discussion, the Israeli government is expected to approve the establishment of a taskforce to fight the boycotting of Israel, Makor Rishon reported Saturday night. The taskforce will be run by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who says he has studied the subject since joining the government.

The announcement represents a new stage in dealing with the BDS phenomenon with its various offshoots. Until now, the issue was handled by only one official at the Foreign Ministry, and sporadically by Israeli representatives around the world, who used their own judgment to tackle each case. Often, each embassy decided on its own and used its own tools in combating local boycotts.

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The Foreign Ministry often complained in recent years about the lack of funding and standards for tackling the BDS challenge. There are also differing opinions within the foreign office as to the extent, if at all, to which BDS should be fought. Many think that the calls for boycott are so marginal, the very reference to them by the Israeli government plays into the hands of the BDS leaders, who question the legitimacy of Israel’s very existence.

Erdan has met in recent months with scores of organizations and individuals, inside and outside the government, in Israel and abroad, who are familiar with the BDS movement. His meetings included Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

It turns out that there is resistance inside the foreign office to Erdan’s plan, which is viewed as encroaching on the office’s territory. The ministry’s civil service professionals are concerned that Erdan would do more harm than good by barging into foreign scenes he may not be as familiar with as they are.

Kristin Lindow, senior vice president at Moody’s Investors Service and Moody’s lead analyst for Israel, told Forbes earlier this year that “the impact of BDS is more psychological than real so far and has had no discernible impact on Israeli trade or the broader economy.”

In fact, Lindow cautioned that “the sanctions do run the risk of hurting the Palestinian economy, which is much smaller and poorer than that of Israel, as seen in the case of SodaStream.”

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