BERLIN (Reuters) - The German parliament voted on Friday to condemn as anti-Semitic a movement that calls for economic pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian land, grant Arab citizens equal rights and recognise the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
In a move welcomed by Israel, a majority of lawmakers in the Bundestag voted in favour of a motion to label the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement as an entity that uses anti-Semitic tactics to fulfil its political goals.
“The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-Semitic,” read the motion submitted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, their Social Democrat coalition partners as well as the Greens and Free Democrats.
Securing Israel’s survival has been a priority for Germany since the defeat of the Nazi dictatorship that committed the Holocaust, in which an estimated six million Jews were murdered.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Bundestag decision in a statement on Twitter.
“I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
The BDS condemned the motion as anti-Palestinian.
“The German establishment is entrenching its complicity in Israel’s crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege and apartheid, while desperately trying to shield it from accountability to international law,” it said on Twitter.
Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party abstained during the symbolic vote. They had submitted their own motion calling for a total ban of the BDS in Germany. That motion was defeated.
A majority of the far-left Die Linke party voted against the motion. The party also submitted its own proposal, which called to oppose the BDS and commit the German government to work towards a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on U.N. Security Council resolutions. Its motion was also defeated.
The latest battle between the BDS and the Israeli government has been over the Eurovision Song Contest final, which takes place in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
In the run-up to the event, the BDS has called on artists, music fans and broadcasters to avoid the event, arguing it amounts to “whitewashing” Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
With Friday’s Bundestag motion, Germany has effectively backed Israel’s position that international boycotts are discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
The motion said a BDS campaign calling for Israeli products to be labelled with “Don’t Buy” stickers was reminiscent of the Nazi-era boycott of Jewish businesses, known in German as “Judenboykott”, which used slogans such as: “Don’t buy from Jews.”
Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, welcomed the Bundestag decision.
“It (the motion) has broader European significance given that BDS makes no attempt to build coexistence and peace between Israel and all of its neighbors,” he wrote on Twitter.
Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell and Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Frances Kerry