A bill to bar activists from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement from entering Israel was approved by the Knesset Monday in its first reading.
The bill would deny entry to individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or representing an NGO that does, but would allow the interior minister to make exceptions.
The law passed its first reading: 42 to 15, with seven abstentions. The law still needs to pass a second and third reading before it becomes law.
Under the current law, the interior minister already has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel. The proposed bill would entail creating a list of individuals and organizations deemed anti-Israeli and would give the minister the ability to make exemptions.
The proposal was first introduced by former Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal, and was supported by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. When Magal quit the Knesset amid allegations of sexual harassment, Roy Folkman of the Kulanu party took over efforts to pass it.
An explanatory note to the bill states that “in the past few years, the call to boycott Israel has grown stronger. It seems that this is a new front in the war against Israel, which so far the state has failed to address properly. This law will prevent individuals or representatives of companies, NGOs or organizations calling for a boycott of Israel to work within the State of Israel to advance their goals.”
Opponents of the bill have said it seeks to silence legitimate protest.