In 2004, the UN International Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s separation wall is illegal. Construction has continued and it is expected to reach 760 kms. in length. Besides annexing their land, the wall separates Palestinians from their orchards, families, hospitals, workplaces and holy sites.
On the first anniversary of the World Court ruling, Palestinians called for an international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to pressure Israel into respecting international law. Endorsed by 170 Palestinian trade unions, professional associations, political parties, women’s groups, student unions and NGO networks, the campaign is now coordinated by the BDS National Committee (BNC).
A BNC statement called "Occupy Wall Street not Palestine," describes the BDS effort as being "deeply rooted in decades of Palestinian peaceful resistance to colonial oppression," and as "inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid as well as the [US] civil rights movement."
The call for a BDS campaign noted that for decades:
"Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation. Despite abundant condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other international bodies, and preeminent human rights organisations, the world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law."
Despite hundreds of UN resolutions denouncing Israel’s violations of international law, it has always received financial backing and military aid, primarily from the US. Between 2000 and 2011, the US gave Israel US$30 billion worth of the latest weapons systems and related equipment.
In response to the UN’s inability or unwillingness to stop Israel’s illegal acts, Palestinians initiated the BDS campaign calling upon "people of conscience all over the world" to "launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law."
On July 8, 2011, the BNC called for an arms embargo on Israel. Endorsed by such Nobel Peace laureates as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, its primary goal is to stop Israel’s supply of "arms and related materiel of all types, including the sale or transfer of weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, para-military police equipment, including dual-use equipment, and spare parts."
Three days later, Israel’s Knesset responded to the BDS movement with a repressive antiboycott law to penalise Israeli individuals and groups that promote the boycott.