Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File].
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved on Wednesday a bill that would allow the Interior Ministry to ban people who call to boycott Israel from entering the country. The measure, sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), will be sent the plenum for second and third (final) readings.
The bill was originally proposed by Yinon Magal, but Smotrich took it over when the former resigned from the Knesset over sexual harassment allegations.
“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 country to come here,” Smotrich said in the committee meeting.
“The bill allows the [interior] minister to use his judgment, but the default option is to not grant a visa, unless the minister says otherwise.”
Committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said, “Why should I let in my home someone who slanders the country and harms it? We are not afraid of criticism, but we have our national dignity.
“If a person who received temporary residency from us harms us, why would we let him stay?” MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said that the legislation is intended to silence dissent. “The purpose of the bill is to censor those who object to the occupation. All of us are against boycotting Israel, but this bill includes calls to boycott areas that are under Israeli military control.
“This bill asks to silence people on the bases of political opinion, but people should have the right to have a political opinion here,” Zandberg said.
MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) said, “This bill is bad, mainly because it is irrelevant but also because we are against boycotts, but in the same time we are boycotting others [those who would be denied entry to Israel].
“This bill only gives our enemies more fuel. Now they will say that we are silencing political views.”