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16 Nov, 2015

Israeli Knesset Pushes Bill to Ban BDS Supporters Entry to Israel

RAMALLAH, November 12, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli Knesset Thursday advanced a bill to ban the entry of individuals who support boycotting Israel.

The Knesset announced in a press release that the preliminary reading of the bill was approved with a majority of 55 to 31 votes.

The bill was pushed a day after the European Union formally adopted a notice to label goods originating from Israeli settlements from the West Bank and Golan Heights, territories that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

The ‘labeling policy’ would distinguish between products made inside Israel within its internationally accepted borders and those made outside, more specifically illegal Israeli settlements within the occupied West Bank and the Golan Heights.

The EU legislation on indication of origin would mean that the phrase ‘Made in Israel’ is to be only used for Israeli products. The commission debated that the use of ‘Made in Israel’ for Israeli settlements’ products as well would “mislead the consumer and therefore is inconsistent with existing EU legislation.”

The bill targeting supporters of a boycott of Israel was introduced by Jewish Home member of Knesset (MK) Yinon Magal, who reportedly said: “Anyone who wants to boycott is welcome to do so from Syria,” Magal said.

‘Gone are the days when people called for a boycott against Israel, landed in Ben Gurion [airport] and took a taxi to [Palestinian village] Bil’in only to throw stones at soldiers,” he was added.

According to the bill, “Anyone who is not an Israeli citizen or a permanent resident will not be granted any kind of visa or permit if they, or any company, organization or foundation they represent, calls for a boycott of Israel.”

The Knesset said, “If the bill is passed into law, it will grant the Israeli Interior Minister special authority to issue visas or permits in exceptional cases.”

“The bill will prevent individuals or representatives of companies, foundations or organizations that call for boycotting Israel from advancing their ideology on Israeli soil.”

During the Knesset session, Magal slammed EU’s move to officially label settlements’ products as a “huge disgrace” and implicitly lashed out at Arab members of Knesset who “also call to label the settlers.”

Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs Silvan Shalom reportedly said his government backs the legislation on the condition that it is advanced in coordination with the government.

Joint List Member of Knesset Dov Khenin, who voted against the bill, described the bill as “stupid”.

He said: “You view this country as a closed and solitary fortress into which no one enters. The real title for this proposal is ‘the law to encourage the boycott of the State of Israel’. According to your law, anyone who participates in the labeling of goods cannot enter the country – all of Europe is [kept out].”

Anticipating the impact of this bill on tourism, Khenin said: “To protect the settlements you are willing to pay the price of deepening the delegitimizaton and hurting tourism.”