Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that he supports the
"Boycott Bill," which was approved by the Knesset on Monday and has since faced
protests and petitions to the High Court challenging it.
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, Netanyahu confirmed he was in favor of
the "Boycott 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."
"Boycott Bill" 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 on Tuesday.
Netanyahu also pointed
out that Kadima originally supported the anti-boycott measure.
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 that originally supported the bill decide to oppose the final
draft?" Netanyahu asked. "Because there was pressure, and you gave in to that
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 like."
"A law can be appealed in the High Court,
and we respect the High Court. We will respect and defend the High Court,"
The prime minister rejected claims that the bill is
anti-democratic, and used MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) as an
"Earlier, an MK spoke that participated in the provocative
flotilla meant to break the state's naval security blockade," Netanyahu
He then turned to Zoabi: "You're lucky that you are a member of the
Israeli parliament and not the Syrian parliament, for example." Zoabi then began
to shout at Netanyahu, and was forcibly removed from the plenum.
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 so."
Netanyahu's speech, Opposition Leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) accused Netanyahu
of "creating hatred between different parts of the nation, between majority and
"This is a prime minister that 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
"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 Kadima."
Earlier Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
spoke out against High Court cases challenging the "Boycott Bill."
"I hope the
High Court 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 faction
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.
"The coalition cannot ask the same thing from us,
if every faction does whatever is most comfortable for them," he
Lieberman called the law "correct and important," because "the
topic of boycotts has been prevalent for many years," he said.
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
"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'ale 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 bill.
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."
congratulate and tip our hat 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."