MKs on all sides of the political spectrum prepared for Monday’s vote on the “Boycott Bill,” with opposition factions
drafting counter-legislation and working to enlist coalition members to vote
against the proposed law.
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MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) proposed on Sunday
legislation requiring that all products manufactured in the West Bank be labeled
The “Boycott Bill, sponsored by coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin
(Likud), would allow citizens to bring civil suits against persons and
organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against
Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control.
measure pass in its second and third (final) readings on Monday, it would also
prevent the government from doing business with companies that initiate or
comply with such boycotts.
“Settlement products are part of the
widespread occupation economy,” Gal- On said. “Requiring products to be labeled
will allow Israeli consumers to fight against those who seek to defend the
occupation, and won’t allow the differentiation between Israel and the occupied
territory beyond the Green Line to be blurred.”
Gal-On pointed out that
products exported to the European Union are labeled if they are manufactured in
the West Bank. “Israeli citizens should know what European consumers know,” she
The current law requires packaging to include the manufacturer’s
name and an address, but not the location of production.
“For me, blue
and white stops at the Green Line,” Gal-On said. “I don’t buy products
manufactured in the settlements.”
Knesset legal adviser Eyal Inon also
came out against the “Boycott Bill” on Sunday, Channel 2 reported. He said its
legality was questionable and that it would not stand the test of a challenge in
the High Court of Justice, according to the report.
However, a Knesset
spokesman said that Inon had yet to reach a conclusion, and plans to meet with
Elkin on Monday morning before giving a legal assessment.
decide on Monday to delay the votes, either because of Yinon’s opposition or
because of the Middle East Quartet’s meeting taking place in Washington. A
source close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said there was a “reasonable
chance” that he would ask Elkin to delay the votes at the last minute.
The Prime Minister's Office, however, announced early Monday morning that it would not stop efforts to present the bill. If
the votes do take place, the legislation is expected to be passed into law by a
wide margin. The only coalition MKs who have come out against the bill are
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, ministers Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor and
Independence faction chairwoman Einat Wilf. Eitan is abroad and the others are
not expected to participate in the vote.
Likud Party members received a
recorded phone call on Sunday explaining the bill and asked whether they
supported it. The telephone poll was sponsored by the Likud’s nationalist task
force, which reported that 91 percent of the 32,409 people who took part in the
poll voted in favor of it, and only 9 percent voted against it.
opposition, Kadima is expected to decide on Monday to enforce faction discipline
in order to force MKs who support the bill such as Ronit Tirosh and Otniel
Schneller to vote against it.
“The bill is correct and I support it, but
we’ll see what happens in the faction,” Tirosh said.
filibustering maneuver by Kadima could harm the bill’s chances of approval
because Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev’s daughter is getting married on Monday and his
faction is invited to the wedding.
MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima), one of
the bill’s most vocal critics, told The Jerusalem Post
it comes from “a lobby of
settlers in the Knesset.”
“Their goal is to ensure that there is no
public discussion of the most controversial topic – isolated settlements,” he
said. “They want to limit freedom of expression and political
He said that the bill “uses the vaguest term – “calling for a
boycott” – which means that even a post on Facebook could turn into a
“The bill does not fight delegitimization, it only gives more
ammunition to those who claim Israel is a non-democratic, apartheid state,”
Plesner told the Post
. “It harms democratic freedoms. I doubt it will pass the
High Court’s standards.”
He also said that bureaucrats in the Foreign
Ministry and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry have said that the bill will
not be effective in combating boycotts abroad.
Dozens of left-wing
activists gathered outside the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem on Sunday to
protest the legislation, in a demonstration organized by Peace
Protesters held up signs reading “This law will destroy democracy,”
“Stop the Boycott Bill,” “The settlers are not above the law” and “Fascism will
“I think that Israel is slowly but surely becoming an
authoritarian state,” demonstrator Tuvia Goodman of Tel Aviv said. He said that
though Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East, it is “going
Gush Shalom founder and former MK Uri Avnery said
that if the bill passes, it will be a “black stain of shame in Israel’s law
“This is a law to strengthen the settlements and immunize them,”
Avnery said. “Anyone who dares criticize settlements will pay, simple as that. I
call for MKs to vote against the ‘Boycott Bill,’ which kills what is left of
Israeli democracy.”Shira Frager and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to