Daily Israel Report

Knesset OKs Bill Banning Boycotts on Israel

Bill passes in first reading; would make it possible to sue supporters of a boycott on Israeli firms and prevent state funding for them.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/7/2011, 10:36 PM / Last Update: 3/7/2011, 10:59 PM

Flash 90

The Knesset passed in the first reading Monday a bill that would make it illegal to initiate or support a boycott against any body or organization based on that body's connection to Israel. The bill applies to boycotts against individuals, factories, companies and organizations throughout Israel - including Judea and Samaria.

An initiative for or support of an economic, academic or cultural boycott of Israel or an Israeli body would be defined as a civil wrong, enabling that body to sue the boycott's initiator or supporter for compensation regardless of the damage it suffered.
 
In addition, the bill would make it possible for the Finance Minister to prevent bodies that participate in a boycott against Israel or against Judea and Samaria from participating in government tenders.
 
This item in the bill was inspired by reports that Israeli firms taking part in building the Palestinian Authority city of Rawabi agreed not to work with firms based in Judea and Samaria. 
 
The bill was signed by MKs from Coalition and Opposition factions. Its initiator, MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), said: "Israel will not stand idly by as a delegitimization campaign is waged against it from without and within. The bill would combat a phenomenon within us and would not allow a boycott of the state, whether economic or cultural. The law balances between freedom of speech and legitimate defense of the Israeli State, and provides a necessary solution for people who are damaged by the boycotts. We cannot ask of an American citizen what we do not ask of an Israeli citizen."