Knesset Pushes Law to Block Visas for Supporters of Boycott Against Israel

© AP Photo / Ariel SchalitThe opening session of the Knesset
The opening session of the Knesset - Sputnik International
Israel’s parliament has advanced a bill banning those who call for a boycott against Israel from entering the country.

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On Wednesday the Knesset approved the preliminary version of the bill with a majority vote of 55 to 31, Haaretz reported.

The reading was held following the European Union's decision to require the labeling of products for sale in Europe that were made in territories captured by Israel as a result of the Six Day War; foods produced in Syria's Golan Heights region and Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will not be marked as Made in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't hesitate to condemn the EU's move.

"The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand this, those who will suffer will be the Palestinians who are employed in Israeli factories," Netanyahu said.

The bill against boycotters was submitted by Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal, who believes it is absurd to let those who do not support the Jewish state enter the country and work against it from the inside.

"Anyone who wants to boycott is welcome to do so from Syria," Magal said, implying all persons and entities calling for a boycott or representing organizations working to promote such boycotts.

"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."

According to Minister of Interior Silvan Shalom, the Israeli government in general supports the law but considers it a little too extreme, as the current version of the bill implies that all those taking part in product labeling based on the new EU guidelines cannot enter Israel.

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"So it's all of Europe out. In order to protect settlements they're willing to pay the price of deeper delegitimization and harm to tourism," said Joint List MK Dov Khenin, who voted against the bill. "Real title of the law should be ‘The law to promote boycotts against the State of Israel.'"

Even though the legislation won a majority of votes, not everyone believes it's a smart idea. Three more rounds of voting are required before the bill becomes a law.

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