Ministers back bill for companies to sue Israel boycotters
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Ministers back bill for companies to sue Israel boycotters

Legislation aims to bypass High Court ruling that prevented seeking punitive actions against activists without proof of damages

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Illustrative photo of signs calling for the boycott of Israel at an anti-Israel protest in San Francisco, April 2011 (CC BY-dignidadrebelde, Flickr)
Illustrative photo of signs calling for the boycott of Israel at an anti-Israel protest in San Francisco, April 2011 (CC BY-dignidadrebelde, Flickr)

Ministers on Sunday lent their support to a bill that would allow Israeli companies to sue boycott activists for up to NIS 100,000 ($28,500) without proof of damage.

The proposal, brought by Likud MK Yoav Kisch and backed by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, seeks to bypass a High Court of Justice ruling that disqualified portions of Israel’s anti-boycott law.

In the current revision, companies are allowed to seek damages without citing evidence they were hurt financially by the boycott campaigns, in a move the authors of the bill likened to similar Israeli laws on copyrights. That distinction from punitive damages would satisfy the court’s demands for the law as laid out in its ruling, the authors said.

In a tweet, Erdan said he was “proud” the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill, giving it coalition support.

“After it is approved, the law will be an effective tool to fight boycott activists against Israel,” he said.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in Bnei Brak on October 26, 2017.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel has been faced with boycott calls for decades, but the movement, known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), has raised its profile in recent years with help from famous backers.

In response, Israeli politicians have become more combative under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

Last year, Israel budgeted NIS 118 million ($32 million) to fight the movement.

Erdan’s office has spearheaded Israeli efforts. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, he claimed that most leading BDS activists are driven by anti-Semitism to ultimately destroy the country and cloak their nefarious campaign under a false premise of peace and human rights advocacy. Measures have included blocking the entrance of activists into Israel and encouraging its allies worldwide, especially in the US, to promote anti-BDS legislation.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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