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Israel advances new draft law to ban boycotters

Image of Israeli parliament Knesset in session [Itzik Edri/Wikipedia]
The Israeli Knesset [File photo]

An Israeli parliamentary committee has advanced a draft new law that allows the Interior Minister to ban anyone who supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. According to The Jerusalem Post, the legislation will now be voted upon in second and third readings.

The chair of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, which approved the law, Likud’s David Amsalem, said: “The bill allows the [interior] minister to act by his own judgment, but the default option is not to grant a visa, unless the minister says otherwise.”

He added: “Why should I let someone who slanders the state and harms it into my home? We are not afraid of criticism, but we have our national dignity.”

According to Haaretz, the bill “would bar the issuing of entry visas or residency permits in Israel to foreign citizens who call for a boycott of Israel or the settlements.” Entry would be barred in two cases, “the first being if the foreign citizen knowingly and publicly calls for such a boycott, or if the citizen represents an organization that calls for a boycott.”

The bill’s definition of a boycott of Israel relies on a law from 2011, which goes against the boycott of Israel, its institutions or territory under its control, namely the settlements.

In addition, the committee members rejected “a proposal by the Justice Ministry to make an exception in the law for Palestinians with temporary entry permits who reside in Israel, for family unification or other reasons.”

Criticising the proposed law, Yesh Atid MK Yael German said it was “unnecessary” since it would “only add fuel to the fire for the haters to use against us – to say that again and again and again, we seek to oppress and silence people.”

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