Knesset committee approves bill barring boycotters from Israel

The bill proposes to deny entry to individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or those who represent an NGO that does so.

The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Monday approved a bill that bars the entry into Israel of proponents of boycotts against the country, and sent it for its first reading in the plenum.

MK Roy Folkman, who introduced the legislation along with MK Bezalel Smotrich, said that criticism of Israel is acceptable, “but a boycott goes together with de-legitimization… This law is symbolic.”

He stressed that the proposed bill does not constitute a dramatic change in Israel’s immigration policy.

The bill proposes to deny entry to individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or those who represent an NGO that does so, but allows the interior minister to make exceptions.

Under the current law, the interior minister already has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel. The proposed bill entails creating a list of individuals and organizations deemed anti-Israel, and gives the minister the ability to make exemptions to allow those listed into the country.

Some Committee members who oppose the bill called  it “unnecessary,” saying the existing law already enables such action.

Arab MK Yousef Jabareen referred to the bill as “another campaign of political persecution.”

Towards the end of the stormy discussion on the bill, Arab MK Jamal Zahalka was removed by Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem for his violent behavior.

“At every opportunity, MK Zahalka slanders the country and does so while shouting, violently. I do not believe that there is a single country in the world that wouldn’t place him behind bars, just like his teacher Azmi Bishara [a former Arab MK who fled the country after being charged with espionage for the enemy]. I removed him because he is a violent man. He has a lot of hatred towards Israel,” said Amsalem.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News