Israeli opposition politicians and civil society have come out against new legislation passed Monday in the Knesset that outlaws the boycott of Israeli goods, including settlement goods, in the state of Israel. The bill has been slammed as destroying freedom of speech and destroying any remaining remnants of Israeli democracy by Israeli and Palestinian human rights and peace groups.
The Israeli Knesset Monday passed the controversial Boycott Bill by a vote of 47 to 38. The bill makes illegal the boycott of Israeli goods and mandates the government to forgo trade with companies who boycott Israeli goods internationally.
The bill came under heavy criticism in the Knesset as it was debated on Monday from opposition politicians. Echoing claims that the law is undemocratic Meretz MK, Nitzan Horowitz, stated ‘we are dealing with a legislation that is an embarrassment to Israeli democracy and makes people around the world wonder if there is actually a democracy here’.
The Knesset’s legal advisor Eyal Yanon has stated the law is illegal under Israeli law and would not survive a challenge in the Supreme Court. Yanon also stated that the bill ‘damages the core of freedom of expression in Israel’.
Four human rights organisations have stated on Monday that they are launching a legal appeal against the bill, according to JPost. The groups include Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights and Coalition of Women for Peace.
Commenting on the fact that the bill would silence debate on what is a central issue in Israeli politics Director-General of Adalah Attorney Hassan Jubrin stated “not only is the Israeli Knesset trying to silence the protest against the occupation – it is also trying to impose on victims and those in opposition to the occupation, to cooperate and actively support it,’ said.
Israeli peace group Peace Now has come out strongly against the bill. The group started a Facebook group on Monday calling for the boycott of Israeli products in defiance of the ban. The group is demonstrating on Tuesday evening outside the Justice Department in Saladin Street at five o clock.
The Boycott Bill is the latest in a series of controversial laws passed by the Knesset including the Nakba Law and the Admissions Committee Law. The Nakba Law withdraws funding from any group who recognises the foundation of the Israeli state and the concurrent mass exodus of Palestinian refugees as “al Nakba”, or disaster. The Admissions Committee Law allows Jewish Israeli towns and villages to create admissions committee’s to preside over new residents in the area with powers to reject them based on “cultural fit with the community”, a law, critiques claim, which is designed to legalise segregation of Palestinians and Israeli’s.