MKs prohibited from taking flights funded by Israel boycott groups

Regulation takes effect immediately, based on a blacklist of 20 organizations whose members are barred from entering the country due to support for BDS

MK Yoav Kisch seen during a meeting of the Finance committee in the Knesset on November 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Yoav Kisch seen during a meeting of the Finance committee in the Knesset on November 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A Knesset committee on Monday approved a bill prohibiting Knesset members from taking flights paid for by organizations viewed as supporting a boycott against Israel, the Walla website reported.

The organizations are those on a blacklist compiled by the Ministry for Strategic Affairs and published earlier this month.

The bill, approved by the House Committee, which is headed by Likud’s Yoav Kisch, does not need full Knesset approval and will go into effect immediately, the report said.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said earlier this month that the 20 groups on the list to be barred from entering Israel are part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) and consistently and openly work to delegitimize Israel.

Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan at a Likud party conference in Lod, on December 31, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“Forming a list is another step in our campaign against the false propaganda of boycott organizations,” said Erdan, who is also public security minister. “No country would allow visitors who arrive to harm the country to enter it and certainly not when their goal is to wipe out Israel as a Jewish country.”

Israeli opposition leaders slammed the government’s policy toward the BDS ​movement earlier this month.

The chairman of the opposition party Yesh Atid, MK Yair Lapid, called the list an “idiotic idea.”

“BDS activists are detestable but this is an idiotic idea. So our policy to fight boycotts is by implementing another boycott?” he asked.

Lapid said that beyond “harming the war against BDS,” the list also makes no sense since members of some of the Jewish BDS groups on the list, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, “can just make aliyah [immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return] and then they will be here anyway.”

Head of the Zionist Union Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, January 8, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Zionist Union chair Avi Gabbay said that the blocking of BDS activists “has no logic at all.”

“They are causing damage abroad. So if they are here, they can’t do the same damage abroad,” said Gabbay, who leads the faction but is not a member of the Knesset.

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