Israel's parliament has passed the first reading of a bill which will allow the government to impose fines or sanctions on individuals, groups or states which take part in boycotts of the Zionist state. The Combating Israeli Boycott Campaigns Bill went through the Knesset on 16 February and will include action against those who participate in economic and academic boycotts.
Should this bill get final approval and pass into law, it will allow fines to be levied against Israeli activists calling for a boycott of the state; foreign supporters of boycott campaigns will be prevented from entering the country. States with laws which recognise the boycott of Israel in any form will be subject to sanctions.
According to the Hebrew edition of Haaretz newspaper, the "controversial" bill was proposed by the leader of the ruling coalition in the Knesset, Zeev Elkin, along with the leader of the Kadima bloc, Dalia Itzik, despite strong criticism and opposition from the Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
According to Elkin, the bill is a reaction to the phenomena of academic and economic boycotts which have increased in number recently. "It is impossible for Israel to extend its hand to those boycotting it at the same time that Israeli companies are being affected by this boycott," he claimed.
A legal advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Ehud Kinan, said that in his opinion, "There is no need for a law like this" as Israel "possesses sufficient tools to counteract those calling for boycott, and a law such as this will affect its ability to combat boycotters beyond Israel's borders".