Bill banning boycotters from Israel becomes a law

Israel's Knesset passed the law on Monday, enabling the interior minister to refuse to grant visas to supporters of the BDS movement or direct members of it seeking to enter the country.

Bill banning boycotters , anti-Israel activists from visiting Israel becomes a law after Knesset approval on March 6, 2017 (credit: REUTERS/KNESSET CHANNEL)
The Knesset plenum passed a bill on Monday 46-28 in its third and final reading that will allow the Interior Ministry to ban those who support the boycott of Israel from entering the country.
The measure will enable the interior minister to refuse to grant visas to non-Israeli citizens if they are active in a body aligned with the BDS movement or if they publicly support the boycott of Israel.
Knesset Interior Committee chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) presented the bill and said it should be perceived as an obvious step.
“If someone demeans me, I do not let them into my home,” he said. “If anyone insults us, we respond; this law is elementary.”
Amsalem added that he is not against legitimate criticism and that this law is for handling situations where red lines are crossed. “They are not talking about boycotting only the settlements; they are talking about boycotting the state as a state, without any distinction. We are talking about antisemites here,” he added.
After the bill passed, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), one of the initiators of the bill, said that the law reflects the will of the state to fight its enemies.
“We are done turning the other cheek,” he said. “In recent years, a new antisemitic front has been initiated against Israel.
Our enemies carry out a campaign to delegitimize and boycott Israel. Banning BDS supporters that come here to harm us from within is the minimum we can do [to fight] against those Israel-haters.”
MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) said this law is a part of a competition of the Right to see “who is more extreme.”
“Instead of fighting to preserve the Israeli democracy, Amsalem is inspired by dark regimes, like the Former Soviet Union, and asks to target everyone who disagrees with the government,” said Bahloul. “The State of Israel creates with it own hands the ammunition for BDS activists and I call for a stop to this madness that this right-wing government is leading us into.”
MK Ayman Odeh (Joint List) said that during his recent trip to the US, he met Jews who support boycotting the settlements and claimed that they are against the occupation but not against the state.
“I am also against the occupation and for boycotting the settlements, which are a war crime and an act of theft of private land from [Palestinian] people. So saying that people cannot enter because they support the boycott of settlements will serve to ensure Israel’s exclusion throughout the world.”