London, 10 Jumadil Akhir 1438/9 March 2017 (MINA) – Foreigners who support boycotting Israel or its settlements have been banned from entering the country under a new law, which was approved late on Monday by a 46-28 vote at the Knesset. The bill applies to anyone who makes a public call for a boycott, the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) reported.
Right-wing members of the Knesset described the legislation as a necessary step to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign that tries to place economic pressure on Israel for its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The law also applies to foreigners who support a boycott of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. It would include employees of organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, a liberal activist group in the US.
“My grandparents are buried in Israel, my husband and kids are citizens and I lived there for three years, but this bill would bar me from visiting it,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, the group’s executive director, said.
A poll released in December found that nearly half of Americans supported sanctioning Israel over its settlements. The European Union also agreed in 2015 to start labeling foodstuffs and other products made in the settlements.
“I was in the US two weeks ago and I saw there thousands of Jews who support a boycott of the settlements,” Ayman Odeh, an Arab Knesset member, said. “The occupation will end up making Israel a leper.”
The BDS movement, founded a decade ago, has become a favorite target for Israeli right-wing MKs and officials, who describe it as a serious threat.
International economists say the campaign has done some damage to the Israeli economy and managed so far to shave tens of millions of pounds off the country’s £240 billion annual GDP. (T/R04/RS5)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)