(photo credit: REUTERS)
A bill meant to prevent people who call for the boycott of Israel from entering the country passed a first reading Monday night.
The legislation sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) applies to anyone who is not an Israeli citizen or permanent resident and has called for the boycott of Israel, has committed to participating in such a boycott or has represented an organization that did so.
The proposal would allow the Interior Minister to make exceptions, however.
“This bill is meant to prevent those who want to fight us from entering,” Smotrich said.
“BDS is against Israel, not just Judea and Samaria. So what are you afraid of? Today we are taking the first step in getting past that fear.”
Smotrich cited “a whole industry,” or organizations that bring people to Israel on tourist visas for specifically anti-Israel purposes.
“We’re putting an end to it,” he added.
MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu), a cosponsor of the bill, said Israel has to differentiate between legitimate criticism and delegitimization.
“The rationale [of the bill] is that there is room for legitimate criticism, but there is also a war on delegitimization of Israel in which many organizations take part, coming here not to hold a dialogue but to collect information to delegitimize us in the world,” he said.
MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) said boycotting is all a Palestinian can do against Israel’s might.
“[A Palestinian] can speak to the world’s conscience,” he said. “The forces of light in the world are our allies. And who are [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s allies? The Trumpists. The people we speak to don’t come with planes and tanks. They say we should boycott [Israel] to save the Jews and the Arabs. I think that whoever boycotts [Israel] deserves a prize.”
The bill passed a first reading with 42 in favor, 15 opposed and seven from the Zionist Union abstaining. It will go to the Knesset Interior Committee for continued preparation before a second and third (final) reading.