JERUSALEM, Israel – The Knesset has taken a pro-active stance against supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, passing legislation to deny entry to anti-Israel activists.
Parliamentarians passed a bill, 46-28, to hamper efforts to harm Israel from inside the country. The law denies visas or residency status to people who actively support the BDS movement.
Internal Affairs Committee chairman MK David Amsalem called it a "very basic law."
"We have nothing against legitimate criticism, but the latter has nothing to do with calls to boycott Israel. Those cross a red line," he said.
The bill's co-sponsors, MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Roii Folkman, summarized its purpose in the abstract.
"Over the past few years, calls for boycotts against Israel have grown louder. It seems to have become a new battlefront against Israel and the State has yet to be able to duly counter it. This bill seeks to prevent private individuals or those representing companies, associations or organizations that support boycotting Israel from promoting their agenda on Israeli soil."
Israeli Opposition parties slammed the legislation, saying it stymies anyone from disagreeing with the government's policies. The Palestinian Authority agreed.
When the bill passed its first reading in January, the P.A.'s official Ma'an news agency had this to say:
"The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government," Ma'an reported.
The BDS movement promotes sanctions against Israeli-owned businesses, farms, universities, cultural and sports activities, religious institutions and beyond by anyone perceived as violating Palestinian rights.
By their own words, the movement is designed to delegitimize Israel by whatever means possible, painting Israelis as occupiers of Palestinian land and violators of Palestinian rights.