Belfast Telegraph

DUP concern over visit by anti-Israeli campaigner

By Staff Reporter

A former Lord Mayor of Belfast has expressed concern about the visit of a high-profile anti-Israeli activist to speak at a trade union conference in the city this week.

Omar Barghouti is a leader of the BDS - Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions - campaign, and has described Israel as an apartheid state.

The BDS movement pushes for boycotts of Israeli products and institutions, divestment from companies and institutions "complicit" in the violation of Palestinian rights by investing in Israel, and sanctions against the country, such as pushing for the rejection of its membership of international forums.

Last night former DUP Lord Mayor Brian Kingston said he hoped the visit would not cause any trouble.

Referring to what he called "ugly protests" of a few years ago when Israeli shops and products were targeted, Mr Kingston said: "We don't want to go back to that.

"I hope nothing Mr Barghouti says will increase tensions in the city, or cause concern to our Jewish community."

Trade union body ICTU was contacted for a response, but had not replied by the time of going to print last night.

In 2009 republican activists attacked an Israeli stall in Belfast's CastleCourt, shocking shoppers.

And in 2014 protesters removed goods from the shelves of a Sainsbury's supermarket in west Belfast.

A Marks & Spencer store in Newry was also targeted.

In the same year Irish trade union Mandate wrote to a range of high street supermarket retailers requesting that they remove Israeli goods from their shelves.

Earlier this year Mr Barghouti was arrested by the Israeli authorities on suspicion of tax evasion.

He is suspected of failing to report around $700,000 of income over the past decade, during which time he served as the director of National Computing Resources in Ramallah. Mr Barghouti was bailed after questioning. He described the case against him as based on "vicious lies" and politically-motivated.

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