A Chilean Palestinian BDS activist was barred from entering the West Bank on Monday, weeks after the Knesset passed a bill allowing foreign nationals who call for boycotting Israel to be turned away by border authorities.
Anwar Makhlouf, the head of the Palestinian Federation in Chile, was denied entry into the West Bank from Jordan at the Allenby Border Crossing, according to a Monday statement by the Public Security Ministry, owing to his alleged efforts to promote a boycott of Israel.
The statement said Makhlouf is a prominent figure in the BDS movement in Chile, and specifically noted his efforts to sabotage trade and economic relations between Jerusalem and Santiago.
“The days when foreign boycott activists who wish to harm Israel operate here freely are over,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said after Makhlouf’s barred entry. “We will not allow enemies of the state to enter Israel.”
Last month, the Knesset passed a law preventing foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of the Jewish state, or work on behalf of an organization that advocates these measures, from entering Israel.
The legislation was advanced by right-wing and centrist coalition lawmakers and passed its third and final reading with 46 lawmakers voting in favor and 28 voting against it.
The law also extends to supporters of boycotts of West Bank settlement products, resting on a legal definition of an Israel boycott in a 2011 law that includes all “areas under its control.”
It would not apply to foreign nationals who have a residency permit and gives the government leeway to make exceptions. Under existing laws, the interior minister already had the right to bar individuals from entering Israel.
A week after the legislation was passed, Israel barred entry to British pro-Palestinian activist Hugh Lanning. The Public Security Ministry said at the time that Lanning was involved with delegitimization groups operating against Israel in the UK, and had previously met with senior Hamas figures in Gaza.
Critics of the law have charged that it silences legitimate political dissent on Israeli policy.
A number of Jewish groups in the US and the UK also criticized the law.