The U.S. state of Maryland have banned contracts with firms that boycott Israel, Governor Larry Hogan said.

On Monday the governor of the Free State signed an executive order to block it from doing business with companies that boycott the Israeli regime over its expansionist policies in the Middle East.

Hogan announced the measure against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), a movement that calls for ending trade with Israeli entities.

“Boycotts based on religion, national origin, ethnicity or place of residence are discriminatory, and contracting with businesses that practice discrimination would make the state a passive participant in private sector commercial discrimination,” he said, adding that there is no place in the state for “boycotts” and “threats”.

The move, which is similar to Maryland’s “Declaration of Cooperation” with Israel, aims at boosting mutual economic cooperation between Israel and Maryland.

“It is extremely important to the Jewish community to see a governor willing to stand up for Israel,” the executive director of the pro-Israel Baltimore Jewish Council, Howard Libit, said.

“This is as strong a statement as a governor can make, and we are thrilled,” he added.

However, right activists argue that boycotts are a protected freedom of expression under the First Amendment.