Manifestants pro-BDS à Berlin.
Legislation allowing the Interior Ministry to ban activists who call to boycott Israel from entering the country moved a step closer to becoming the law Monday, when the Knesset Interior Committee authorized it for a first reading.
The bill was originally proposed by Yinon Magal, but MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) took it over when the former resigned from the Knesset over sexual harassment allegations.
Smotrich said the bill is "simple and trivial," but reflects a "healthy" policy for a country fighting enemies.
"Israel is fighting on numerous fronts at once; the IDF is protecting our borders, and there is another front, the fight against the BDS movement and boycotts on Israel. The time has come to stop turning the other cheek and prevent the entry of all antisemitic factors who are acting to harm the State of Israel," Smotrich stated.
Kulanu MK Roi Folkmann, a cosponsor of the bill, said it's fine to criticize Israel, but boycotting is a form of delegitimization.
"Anybody who wants to enter Israel and is concerned that he won't be let in, must turn to the Interior Ministry and explain the purpose of his visit, and where he or she wants to go and what he wants to learn," Folkmann said.
MK Michal Rosin (Meretz) said it is legitimate for the Interior Ministry to block entry for people it thinks are dangerous, but said the bill is unnecessary.
"How will this look to the world?" she lamented.
MK Youssef Jabareen (Joint List) called the bill "political persecution." "When I go abroad, I meet all kinds of activists. Are we going to start chasing after all of them now?" he asked.
"Are they calling for a boycott?" Smotrich responded.
"It's a very legitimate stance among activists, that all settlements are illegal. Anyone who boycotts settlements will be prevented from entering Israel?" Jabareen continued.
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