by WorldTribune Staff, March 8, 2017
Israel’s Knesset has passed legislation to bar supporters of the boycott movement from entering Israel. Critics compared the bill to U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban and said it would thwart legitimated political dissent.
The legislation prevents foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of the Jewish state or work on behalf the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign from entering Israel, The Times of Israel reported on March 8.
It was not immediately clear when the ban would take effect.
Knesset member Roy Folkman, who sponsored the bill, said the legislation was necessary in order to protect Israel’s “name and honor.”
“It is possible to feel both national pride and also to believe in human rights. It is also possible to defend the name and honor of the State of Israel and this is no embarrassment,” he said.
The law, which passed with 46 lawmakers voting in favor and 28 against, also extends to supporters of boycotts of West Bank settlement products. It would not apply to foreign nationals who have a residency permit and gives the interior minister leeway to make exceptions. Under existing law, the interior minister already has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel.
Another Knesset member who helped spearhead the new legislation, Bezalel Smotrich, said it shows that Israel “won’t turn the other cheek” and that it was a “natural” step for any country to take.
A spokesperson for Smotrich previously compared the legislation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, saying “without going into the policies of the [U.S.] president, every sovereign nation must set its policies in accordance with what is good for it.”
Critics say the law silences legitimate political dissent on Israeli policy.
Joint (Arab) List leader Ayman Odeh said by banning settlement boycott supporters, the bill would end up ensnaring hundreds of Jews in the U.S. and elsewhere who “are not against the country, but against the occupation.”