Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has approved a bill dubbed the “Boycott Ban”, which outlaws boycotting, or calling for boycotts against, Israel and Israel’s illegal settlements. The bill was passed by 47 votes to 38; those who opposed the new law took the view of the parliament’s legal adviser that it “clashed directly with freedom of expression in Israel”.
The head of the governing coalition, Zeev Elkin, welcomed the law. The Likud Party member said that it is “not meant to muzzle anyone, but to protect the citizens of Israel” from boycotts and their effects. The opposition Kadima Party criticised the bill and said Israel will pay a high price for adopting it.
The Higher Follow Up Committee for Arabs in 1948 Palestine sent messages to Knesset’s leadership, Israel’s Minister of Finance and the judiciary, and the government’s legal adviser, asking them to oppose the suggestion that those who boycott Israel and its produce or call for such a boycott should be punished. The Committee believes that the law is very dangerous and rules out an important weapon in the struggle for equality by Palestinian citizens in Israel.
The new law will give Israel the right to demand compensation and impose huge fines on those proved to be boycotting the Jewish state economically, academically or socially. It also gives the Minister of Finance the right to prevent organisations involved in boycott calls from taking part in bids for government funding.