New laws have been passed in Israel’s parliament that will see any and all those who support a boycott of the Jewish state refused entry into the nation.
The new bill passed into law will allow officials to revoke visas and/or not issue visas to those residing or visiting the nation if evidence suggests they support a Palestinian state.
“A visa will not be granted nor a residence permit of any kind to any person who is not an Israeli citizen or permanent resident if he, or the organisation or body in which he is active, has knowingly issued a public call to boycott the state of Israel or pledged to take part in such a boycott,” a statement outlining the new bill, said.
One targeted movement is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which has campaigned for global boycotts of Israel until they withdraw from Palestinian territories. However, any individual calling for a boycott publicly will not be granted a visa under the new laws.
The new law has drawn criticism from Americans for Peace Now (APN) as an assault on “civil liberty” and “freedom of expression.”
“Boycotting and calling for boycotts are legitimate forms of peaceful, political expression protected in any democracy… this legislation sends a message to the Israeli public and to the world, that as far as the Israeli political establishment is concerned, legitimate political expression is verboten,” a statement released by Debra DeLee, president of APN said.
“This is exactly where Americans for Peace Now is. We are a Zionist, pro-Israel organization, which cares about Israel’s future as a democracy and a Jewish state,” DeLee said.
In a vote at the United Nations Security Council late last year, a resolution was passed on Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, stating they have no legal validity. The resolution also called for a halt to all Israeli settlements and to reinforce a two-state solution through talks and negotiations. Although America, along with France, Russia, China and the UK held veto power, none chose to exercise its authority.
The new law passed on a vote 46 to 28, and it is uncertain when the laws will be introduced.
DeLee noted on a personal level, “Personally, as a Jew, as a Jewish community leader who has devoted a large part of my adult life to making Israel a better place, I am heartbroken as I witness the Israeli government and Knesset adopting anti-democratic policies.”
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