Israel to deny entry to foreigners backing boycott campaign

Mar 08, 2017, 00:28
Israel to deny entry to foreigners backing boycott campaign

Approved late on Monday by a 46-28 vote, the bill applies to anyone who makes a "public call" for a boycott.

"I am not in favour of the academic or cultural boycott of Israel, and I am not in favour of a blanket boycott of Israeli goods".

The law also extends to people who call for the boycott of any Israeli institution and all "areas under its control" - i.e., supporters of boycotts of West Bank settlement products.

The law takes aim at the BDS movement, which emerged more than a decade ago and is an acronym for "boycott, divest and sanction". "We think that border control should not be used as thought control", Hagai El-Ad, executive director of prominent Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, told journalists on Tuesday, AFP news agency reported.

Amsalem said that he is not against legitimate criticism of Israel but that the law was created to penalize those who were not just "talking about boycotting only the settlements; [but who] are talking about boycotting the state as a state, without any distinction".

"Banning BDS supporters that come here to harm us from within is the minimum we can do [to fight] against those Israel-haters", said Jewish Home party lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich. The Knesset law, Erdan said, is "another step in our struggle against those who seek to delegitimize Israel while hiding behind the language of human rights".

Last year, the country allocated 118 million shekels ($32 million, 30 million euros) to fight the BDS movement.

"Today, Trump and Israel both passed racist and repressive bans".

"Whilst BDS does not attract significant or mainstream support within Jewish communities, there is a live debate about the settlements with, according to research, the overwhelming majority of the community in United Kingdom believing the settlements are a barrier to peace", she told The Independent.

Anti-settlement NGO Peace Now called the law "neither Jewish nor democratic", and said it violates freedom of expression.

Lawyers said visitors who have joined pro-Palestinian demonstrations, supported the BDS movement on social media or critiqued the Israeli government elsewhere have been denied entry to the country.

"Why should I bring someone into my house who demonizes and undermines the state?" asked panel chairman David Amsalem, a member of the Likud party.

MP Manuel Trajtenberg, of the main opposition Zionist Union alliance, said he believed constructive engagement with the boycott lobby was a better option.

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