A protester chants slogans near a banner reading "Boycott Israel" during an anti-Israel march in Malmo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved on Wednesday a bill that allows the Interior Ministry to ban people who call to boycott Israel from entering the country.
The legislation, pushed forward by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) will be voted upon in second and third readings.
The bill was originally proposed by former Bayit Yehudi MK Yinon Magal, but Smotrich took it over when the former resigned from the Knesset in 2015 over sexual harassment allegations.
Anti-Israel protest outside Israeli embassy in Washington in 2014
"We should remember that the right to enter the State of Israel should not be taken for granted. There is no reason to allow someone who wants to harm the state to come in," said Somtrich in the committee meeting.
"The bill allows the [interior] minister to act by his own judgment, but the default option is not to grant a visa, unless the minister says otherwise," committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said, "Why should I let someone who slanders the state and harms it into my home? We are not afraid of criticism, but we have our national dignity."
"If a person that received temporary residency by us comes and harms us, would we let them stay?" he added.
Meanwhile, opposition MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said that the bill serves to silence political views. "The purpose of the bill is to censor the occupation objectors. All of us are against boycotting Israel, but this bill includes the call to boycott areas that are under Israeli military control."
"This bill asks to silence people on the bases of political opinion, and people should have the right to have a political opinion here," Zandberg added.
In addition, MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) condemned the legislation as "irrelevant," stating that "we are against boycott, but at the same time we are boycotting others."
"This bill only gives our enemies more fuel. Now they will say that we are silencing political views," she underlined.