Proposed bill could allow expulsion of left-wing activists

MK Yariv Levin recruiting additional co-sponsors for initiative that would forbid foreigners defined as enemy agents from entering Israel.

Knesset winter session 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Knesset winter session 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Less than a week after the Knesset voted to establish a parliamentary inquiry committee to examine left-wing organizations’ foreign funding, MK Yariv Levin (Likud) prepared on Sunday to introduce a bill that would allow the Interior Ministry to deport or prevent the entry of foreign activists who harm Israel’s security or image.
Levin is preparing the measure together with attorney Hila Cohen of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel. Although it is not clear when it will be officially filed with the Knesset secretary, the bill is fully drafted, and Levin is recruiting additional co-sponsors for the initiative.RELATED:Left-wing NGOs mad Knesset to probe foreign fundingRivlin slams ‘legal tribunal’ against left-wing NGO
It is not clear how much support the initiative will garner, but after the recent vote on MK Fania Kirschenbaum’s (Israel Beiteinu) inquiry-committee measure, the bill may enjoy strong momentum in its advance through the Knesset.
The bill would authorize the interior minister “to forbid entrance to Israel or to expel from Israel people defined as enemy agents who harm Israel’s security or image,” the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel said.
It details specific types of activities defined as harming Israel’s security, including denying the existence of the Holocaust, boycotting Israel or Israeli products, and working to hold international court proceedings against Israeli citizens because of activities carried out while serving in Israel’s security organizations.
In the bill’s current form, the interior minister would be authorized to forbid violators from spending time in Israel.
“In each and every generation, there are those who rise up against us to destroy us, and as the State of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, we must act and do everything that we can do to prevent and isolate these phenomena in Israel and in the world,” the bill’s introduction reads.
“Today, there is no legal basis whatsoever that allows the state to act and to express its desire to not give legitimacy to those who act to negate – through initiatives, organization, funding or practical acts – the justification for the existence of the State of Israel, and also Israel’s actions taken for the defense, the security and the welfare of its citizens,” the measure’s drafters explain.
The legislation “is designed to deal with all kinds of agents who are not citizens, immigrants or qualified to be immigrants” who engage in activities including “fund-raising, organizing protests, and incitement,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Post.
The interior minister would be allowed to deport foreign activists already in Israel, or deny entry to those trying to enter Israel, for either a limited period or permanently.
The bill is a proposed amendment to the law detailing the parameters for legal presence in Israel.
Organizations could also be placed on the list of non-welcome entities, meaning that the organizations’ leaders would all be barred from entry.
The legislation also delineates an appeals process by which parties who feel that they have been unfairly blocked from entry could appeal the interior minister’s decision.
“This bill is critical because such activities have become very common,” Cohen said.
“At least Israel, if it cannot prevent them from doing what they do overseas, can at least make this statement that Israel will not let people do it within its borders. Israel must say that we are not willing for people to take these actions.”
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel criticized the proposal on Sunday evening.
“From online reports concerning Levin’s planned bill it seems this is another legislative attempt by the current Knesset to silence critical voices, and falsely label all criticism as illegitimate positions that undermine the very existence of the state,” ACRI spokeswoman Ronit Sela said.
“Those familiar with the work of the Interior Ministry know that its unofficial policy to date is to discourage visitors who hold critical views of Israel’s policies from attempting to enter the country. Were this harmful procedure to become a law, it would serve as a clear warning sign of the declining state of our democracy by the hands of members of Knesset who disregard democracy’s basic values and human rights.”