Israel passes ban on calls for boycott
TEL AVIV (BNO NEWS) — The Israeli parliament on Monday passed a law penalizing persons or organizations that boycott Israel or the West Bank settlements, Haaretz newspaper reported.
The new law, which has been strongly opposed by rights groups, passed by a vote of 47 to 38. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not present during the vote.
Under the terms of the new law, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued for compensation by the boycott’s targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. Zeev Elkin of the right wing Likud party, who proposed the law, said the law is not meant to silence people, but “to protect the citizens of Israel.”
Among the bill’s opponents was Nitzan Horowitz from the left wing Meretz party, who called the law outrageous and shameful. “We are dealing with a legislation that is an embarrassment to Israeli democracy and makes people around the world wonder if there is actually a democracy here,” he said.
Before the vote, the Israeli parliament’s legal adviser, attorney Eyal Yanon, published a legal assessment saying parts of the law edge towards “illegality and perhaps beyond.” He went on to warn that the law “damages the core of freedom of expression in Israel.” Yanon’s assessment contradicts that of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who said the bill is legal.
The Peace Now organization, which promotes Israeli-Palestinian peace, announced Monday it opened a Facebook page calling for a boycott of products that come from the settlements. It also plans to launch a national campaign on Tuesday to get international support.
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