Law Passed By Knesset Banning Israel Boycotters Entry to the Country
08 March, 2017, 00:27 | Author: Ora Austin
A new Israeli law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country came under fire Tuesday from human rights groups and the opposition, who called it "thought control" harmful to Israel's global standing.
The Bill, which passed in the Knesset by 46 to 28 votes, stipulates that entry will be denied to foreigners who openly and publicly advocate boycotting Israel and to representatives of organisations that call to for such a boycott.
For decades Israel faced boycott calls for its 50 year occupation of the Palestinian Territories, but the movement known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) raised its profile in recent years with help of celebrity backers such as Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. The legislation gives Israel's interior minister discretion over where and when to bar foreigners on the grounds that they support boycotts.
The new law bars entry to anyone who makes a "public call" in support of cultural, academic or economic boycotts of Israel or areas it controls.
"He does support targeted boycotts aimed at undermining the existence of illegal settlements in the West Bank".
"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.
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Jacobs said she was less concerned with the mechanics of the law than the message it sends about Israel's stance on speech.
The guidance also warns that British nationals of Palestinian origin "may face problems" and that all arrivals at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv should expect lengthy personal questioning and searches that can result in a restricted visa or 10-year travel ban.
Last week, Israel barred Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir from entering the country for the second time in under a month for initiating boycott campaigns.
Pro-Palestinian activists already accuse Israel of discriminatory entry checks, saying people of Arab descent are more likely to be questioned or turned away at the airport.
"It doesn't cover any individual who ever said something. It is also possible to defend the name and honor of the State of Israel and this is no embarrassment", he said, according to a Knesset spokesperson.
Anti-settlement NGO Peace Now called the law "neither Jewish nor democratic", and said it violates freedom of expression.
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