Activist Uri Avneri and the Gush Shalom peace movement appealed to the High Court on Tuesday in a request to cancel the "Boycott Law" which was approved in its final reading in the Knesset late Monday night.

According to the petition, which was submitted by Attorneys Gabi Laski and Nuri Ramati, Gush Shalom claimed that the law violates the basic principles of democracy.

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"The 'Boycott Law' is another stage in the attempts by the parliamentary majority in Israel to silence every criticism directed against the government's policy in general, and specifically, the government's policy in the occupied territories, and to prevent open, productive political discourse, which constitute the foundation for the existence of a democratic regime," the petition read.

Furthermore, the "Boycott Law is unlawful and anti-democratic since it severely violates freedom of expression and freedom of equality, which are basic laws in the state of Israel."

Overnight Monday, four human rights organizations announced that they plan to appeal the new law at the High Court, in a letter sent to government officials prior to the bill's approval in the Knesset.

Groups participating in the appeal include Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights and Coalition of Women for Peace. The four organizations sent a letter to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz demanding a halt in the approval process of the law.

According to the rights organizations, the "Boycott Bill" is "completely unlawful which limits freedom of political expression and is contrary to international law."

Furthermore, the groups allege that the law also "forces residents of east Jerusalem to cooperate with the occupation" and "violates the principle of equality by attempting to defend one political position while limiting other positions."

"Not only is the Israeli Knesset trying to silence the protest against the occupation - it is also trying to impose on victims and those in opposition to the occupation, to cooperate and actively support it," Director-General of Adalah Attorney Hassan Jubrin said. "[The bill] does not meet any criteria of international law and we believe that [the bill] will not receive the approval of the Supreme Court."

It is impossible to distinguish between a boycott which is unlawful and punishable, with another boycott against an industrial company or a municipality of some sort, Jubrin continued. "The distinction between different types of damaging protests exposes the unacceptable political intention of this law, which seeks to benefit only one side of the political spectrum and to silence public debate on a central and controversial issue," Jubrin added.


The bill passed with 47 in favor and 38 opposed, despite the fact that most Shas lawmakers were absent because of MK Nissim Ze’ev’s daughter’s wedding.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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