The Swiss parliament has blocked a move to criminalize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign aimed at Israel’s abuse of human rights in occupied Palestine. Although MPs voted in favor of a motion calling on the government to review its regulations to ensure organizations involved in “racist, anti-Semitic or hate-motivated actions” do not receive funding from the state, the final text of the bill was stripped of all references to BDS and the Middle East.
The bill was regarded openly as an anti-BDS measure. It was changed on the recommendation of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house. The measure to criminalize the BDS campaign for Palestinian rights was thus thwarted.
During the debate on the issue, Switzerland’s foreign minister criticized the original anti-BDS motion, saying that it threatened the essential right of civil society to criticize governments, reported The Electronic Intifada. Didier Burkhalter told the upper house on Tuesday that sufficient controls on financing of foreign organizations were in place and he backed the amended motion removing all references to BDS.
— adri nieuwhof (@steketeh) June 15, 2017
“We should not throw away the baby with the bath water,” explained the minister. “Swiss values must not be abandoned, especially when democracy and civil society are supported, in accordance with the constitution, which provides general support for peace, democracy and civil society.”
Burkhalter told lawmakers that the problem with the original motion was that it threatened the right to challenge governments. “Such a measure would obviously sweep away all possibility for civil society to criticize governments. That is something that is definitely not desirable and it is above all something that goes against progress.”
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)