Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that he supports the
so-called boycott bill, which was approved by the Knesset on Monday and has
since faced protests and High Court of Justice petitions challenging
Following a Kadima-initiated Knesset session on “the Netanyahu
government’s failures,” the prime minister, who is required by law to give a
response to a Knesset discussion with 40 or more signatures, confirmed that he
was in favor of the bill.
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“Don’t be confused – I authorized the bill. If
I hadn’t authorized it, it wouldn’t have gotten here,” he said. “I am opposed to
boycotts against Israel and boycotts against groups within Israel. I oppose
boycotts of Arabs, of haredi people, and of any citizens of Israel.”
newly-passed legislation allows citizens to sue organizations or persons calling
for a boycott against Israel or parts of Israel, and forbids the government from
funding such organizations.
Gush Shalom submitted a petition against the
anti-boycott measure to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday.
also pointed out that Kadima originally supported the anti-boycott
“You initiated the bill. Central members of Kadima – the faction
chairwoman supported the law, and so did MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila and [former
MK] Tzachi Hanegbi.
Why did Kadima MKs who originally supported the bill
decide to oppose the final draft?” Netanyahu asked. “Because there was
pressure, and you gave in to that pressure.”
The prime minister added:
“If you don’t like the bill, there’s an easy way to deal with it – argue,
convince, act, pull together a majority in the Knesset – that’s the democratic
way. You don’t choose to respect laws you like and not respect laws you don’t
“A law can be appealed in the High Court of Justice, and we
respect the High Court of Justice. We will respect and defend the High Court of Justice,” he said said.
Netanyahu rejected claims that the bill
is anti-democratic, and used MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) as an
“Earlier, an MK who participated in the provocative flotilla
meant to break the state’s naval security blockade spoke,” Netanyahu said. He
then turned to Zoabi and said, “You’re lucky that you are a member of the
Israeli parliament and not the Syrian parliament, for example.”
then began to shout at Netanyahu, “Go ahead, put me on trial! Put me on trial,
like your soldiers should be put on trial!” The Balad MK was forcibly removed
from the plenum, with MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) yelling after her, “You are
“Those who are concerned about Israel’s image around the world need to
stand before those who take advantage of the privileges that Israeli democracy
gives them in order to turn every flaw into an attack on Israel’s very right to
exist,” Netanyahu said.
“Enough people slander Israel, so I am asking you
not to join them. Israeli democracy is excellent and will always remain
Following Netanyahu’s speech, opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni
(Kadima) accused Netanyahu of “creating hatred between different parts of the
nation, between majority and minority.”
“This is a prime minister who
does not know what democracy is. He is empty of all values. He doesn’t
understand that equality isn’t a favor that you give someone, but a right that
belongs to every citizen in the state,” Livni said.
“I will not let you,
once again, create a supposedly patriotic right-wing battle against
organizations that cooperate with the enemy. That is a trick that will fail,”
the Kadima leader said.
“The battle is for the Zionist, Israel-loving
majority that enlists in the army and fights, sometimes paying with their lives,
for the State of Israel and its values,” Livni added. “There is a sane,
nationalist, liberal, strong, Zionist center, and that center is represented by
Earlier Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke out
against High Court of Justice cases challenging the “Boycott Bill.”
hope the High Court of Justice will not intervene in the Knesset’s legislative
process,” Lieberman said. “Separation of the branches of government is important
in these matters.”
Lieberman also said he was disturbed by the fact that
the Independence Party decided not to participate in the vote on the
anti-boycott law, even though there was coalition discipline, requiring every
faction in the coalition to vote in favor of the bill.
cannot ask the same thing from us, if every faction does whatever is most
comfortable for them,” he explained.
Lieberman called the law “correct
and important,” because “the topic of boycotts has been prevalent for many
years,” he said.
“It was very strange that we requested from others to do
what we don’t do ourselves,” Lieberman said. “We can’t ask other governments to
stop boycotts if we don’t do the same.”
“I cannot accept a boycott on the
theater in Ariel or a the dairy farm in Nokdim. It’s impossible that large
industrial areas near Ma’aleh Adumim or Barkan will be harmed. The ‘Boycott
Bill’ gives equal opportunities to everyone, so that no people or places of
employment will be ‘type B,’” the foreign minister added, in defense of the
When asked if the Likud is stealing Israel Beiteinu’s thunder by
proposing nationalist bills, Lieberman said, “No one has to steal our credit –
we’re happy to share.”
“We support, congratulate and tip our hats to
[coalition chairman Likud MK] Ze’ev Elkin,” who proposed the “Boycott Bill,” the
foreign minister said.
“I think the Likud finally sees that we were right
all along,” said Leiberman.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said his
Independence Party strongly opposed the anti-boycott law. Speaking at a meeting
of his party’s council at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, he said he expected the High
Court of Justice to reject the law and everyone to respect the court’s
Barak said his faction would also oppose forming a
parliamentary committee to probe non-governmental organizations.
the bill by Israel Beiteinu MK Faina Kirschenbaum that will come to a vote next
week was unnecessary and damaging, and he hoped it would be defeated.
defense minister also rejected the idea of holding hearings for Supreme Court
“I call upon the prime minister and the heads of the coalition to
find a way to remove this idea from the agenda.”
Gil Hoffman contributed
to this report.
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