Knesset advances bill to keep out boycott supporters

Measure passes first reading with large majority of 55-31; Joint List MK slams it as ‘populist,’ ‘harmful’

A plenum session on the 20th Knesset, September 7, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A plenum session on the 20th Knesset, September 7, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A bill that would allow officials to deny entry into Israel to persons calling for a boycott against it passed the first of four Knesset votes on Wednesday, just hours before the EU announced it would begin labeling Israeli products made in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The bill passed a preliminary vote in the Knesset plenum by a majority of 55-31.

Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal, who proposed the measure, said it was intended to address “the absurd situation where a person exploits Israeli democracy and what Israel has to offer in order to push boycotts against the country.”

That situation, he vowed, “is going to stop. Gone are the days when people call for a boycott against Israel, land in Ben Gurion [Airport] and take a taxi to [the West Bank village of] Bil’in only to throw stones at soldiers.”

The bill enjoyed a handy majority in the plenum, but faced vociferous criticism from the opposition.

Joint List MK Dov Khenin slammed the bill as causing “unprecedented” damage to the country.

“The government of Israel is breaking new records in its willingness to hurt Israel’s citizens in the service of protecting the settlements,” he charged in the plenum.

“While Europe approves labeling settlement products, the Knesset today approves a bill that would forbid all supporters of labeling products entry into Israel. The approach that now guides the government of Israel is that if Europe and the world criticize its policy, then we must disengage from them, boycott them, and not allow them to come here. And all so we can protect the settlements and the products made there.”

The bill was a “populist” step, he said, and should be renamed “The law to promote boycotts against the State of Israel.”

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