Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed an amendment into law on Monday evening forbidding entry into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory to foreigners calling for a boycott of Israel, Israeli media reported.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the amendment, which passed its final readings with 46 MKs voting in favor and 28 against, bans entry to any foreign individual who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott.”
“In the last few years the calls to boycott Israel have been growing,” Ynet quoted the amendment proposal as saying. “It appears that this is a new front in the war against Israel for which the state was so far reluctant to prepare. This amendment aims to prevent people or representatives of companies, associations or organizations who publicly call to boycott Israel from actively working within state territories to promote their agenda.”
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.
BDS has gained momentum over the years, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The ban applies to foreigners who call for a boycott of Israeli institutions as well as of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
While the Israeli Ministry of Interior would be able to make exceptions in specific cases, the law was approved without including an exception for Palestinians with temporary residency in Israel, as had been requested by the Ministry of Justice.
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem criticized the new legislation on Tuesday during a press conference attended by Ma’an.
“We think border control shouldn’t be used as thought control,” B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said, adding that while the law was “not such a novelty” due to Israel’s pre-existing crackdown on foreign BDS activists, it nonetheless sent “a strong message.”
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)