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      Gush Shalom Challenges Boycott Bill

      Attempting to prove its point that the Knesset Law imposing penalties on boycott organizers was unconstitutional the Left petitioned the court.
      By Uzi Baruch
      First Publish: 7/12/2011, 4:21 PM / Last Update: 7/12/2011, 9:10 PM

      Flash 90

      As Israel's left argued the anti-boycott law that passed the Knesset last night was invalid vis-a-vis Israel's Basic Laws, it was already preparing to petition the court.

      As opposed to the United States, where  a law's validity (constitutionality) is established in concrete cases that progress through the court system from lower to higher courts, Israel's High Court of Justice can be approached directly on such issues.

      The radical leftist organization Gush Shalom, in conjunction with Uri Avneri, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to repeal the law.

      In the petition, submitted via attorney Gabi Laski, the organization argued the "anti-boycott law constitutes another layer to attempts by the parliamentary majority to stifle any criticism against government policy in general and government policy in the occupied territories in particular and prevents open and fertilizing discourse, that constitutes the basis for a democratic regime."

      The anti-boycott law passed late Monday night by the Knesset after a six-hour debate imposes a series of sanctions on persons and organizations who call for imposing a boycott on Israel, Israeli institutions or companies, or areas under Israeli control such as Judea and Samaria.

      The law passed with 47 in favor and 38 against. No MKs abstained from the vote, but many were absent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not participate in the vote but was, as is customary in such cases, paired with an opposition member. 

      Members of Ehud Barak's Independence Knesset faction did not take part in the voting in violation of coalition discipline.