Knesset bans entry to foreigners calling for boycotts of Israel

Mar 08, 2017, 00:26
Knesset bans entry to foreigners calling for boycotts of Israel

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is one of the British MPs who may be barred from visiting Israel after the country's parliament voted to ban entry to supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The law says that the ban would apply not only to people who call for boycotts against Israel but also to those who call for boycotts of any Israeli entity or any "area under its control", in an implicit reference to the illegal settlements, the Israeli left-leaning daily Haaretz reported Monday.

The committee that approved the bills' final language also rejected a Justice Ministry recommendation "to make an exception for Palestinians with temporary residency in Israel, like those admitted under the family unification program, who spend several years as temporary residents before receiving permanent residency", Haaretz added.

It also bans entry visas and residency rights for those who call for boycotts of Israeli institutions in any "area under its control", including Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are regarded as illegal under worldwide law.

It is unclear how, exactly, the Interior Minister will determine who supports BDS or boycotts of settlements.

Anti-settlement NGO Peace Now called the law "neither Jewish nor democratic".

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Hannah Weisfeld, the director of British Jewish organisation Yachad, said there were concerns regular visitors with relatives in Israel could be caught up in the ban. "Through this law the Bennetyahu government will not prevent boycott but rather, deteriorate Israel's global standing and lead Israel towards worldwide isolation".

Last year Israeli authorities refused to renew the travel documents of prominent BDS campaigner Omar Barghouti.

MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu), who sponsored the bill, said the bill was necessary to protect Israel's "honor". The campaign advocates applying economic and political pressure on Israel to achieve equal rights for Palestinians in the country and calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

A senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies was among at least 115 British citizens refused entry to Israel a year ago. He said it "allows Israel to defend itself".

Two United Nations experts called on Israel to respect the rights and freedoms of human rights activists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories earlier this month, saying groups were facing increasing restrictions.