ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
Bill to provide civil penalties for anyone calling for boycott on Israel, settlements; Knesset legal adviser: Legislation may fail High Court test.
Photo by: Courtesy
The “Boycott Bill” was approved in its final reading in the Knesset on Monday night, after a plenum discussion that lasted nearly six hours and uncertainty throughout the day as to whether a vote would take place.
The bill passed with 47 in favor and 38 opposed, despite the fact that most Shas lawmakers were absent because of MK Nissim Ze’ev’s daughter’s wedding.
In addition, many cabinet members – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – did not attend the vote and the Independence faction chose not to participate.
Netanyahu’s spokesman would not comment on why the prime minister did not vote.
Earlier on Monday, the legislation’s sponsor, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), and like-minded MKs held a press conference in support of the anti-boycott bill, after Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and his deputies voted five to three to bring it to the plenum.
“This bill defends the State of Israel,” Elkin said. “We have no right to ask our allies to do the same, if an Israeli citizen can do as he wishes.”
The new law allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control. It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.
Elkin defended the measure, calling it “vegetarian” and saying that its meat was removed when the clause making boycotts a criminal offense was removed.
“The law says that if you harm me [with a boycott], I have the right to ask for damages, and if you boycott the State of Israel, don’t ask it for benefits,” he said. “It was significantly softened.”…READ MORE