Israel steps up battle against boycott movement

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Israel steps up battle against boycott movement

Israel's parliament has passed into law a bill barring entry into the country to those supporting a boycott of the Jewish state.

The law applies to anyone who calls publicly for a boycott of the State of Israel or works for an organization that support a boycott on Israel, aside from citizens of permanent residents.

A request from the justice minister to make an exception for Palestinian with temporary residence in the country was rejected, Haaretz reported, although the interior ministry reserved the right to make exception in particular circumstances.

The law also applies to foreigners who support a targeted boycott...

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. The new legislation "will not prevent boycott but rather, deteriorate Israel's global standing and lead Israel towards worldwide isolation", the group warned in a statement.

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

Israel has been faced with boycott calls for decades, but the movement known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has raised its profile in recent years with help from famous backers such as Roger Waters.

Pro-Palestinian activists already accuse Israel of discriminatory entry checks, saying people of Arab descent are more likely to be questioned or turned away at the airport.

"Israel should never take actions that reinforce the Far Left's claim that Israel and its supporters use the power of the state to violate the freedom of speech of their opponents", said Kenneth Bob, President of Ameinu, which describes itself as a progressive Zionist organization in NY. He said Israel and "every country has the right to determine who enters its border", and said the law was "another step in our struggle against those who seek to delegitimize Israel while hiding behind the language of human rights, and they do it from time to time".

A senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies was among at least 115 British citizens refused entry to Israel previous year.

"However, it appears that Israel's latest actions are instead targeting these activists and undermining their efforts to defend others".

Anti-settlement NGO Peace Now called the law "neither Jewish nor democratic", and said it violates freedom of expression.

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