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The New Arab

Israel set to ban entry to BDS supporters

Critics have slammed the bill as an attempt to silence legitimate protest [AFP]

Date of publication: 30 January, 2017

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Israel's right-wing government is looking to approve a controversial bill targeting pro-Palestine political activists amid global outrage about the US' Muslim ban, supported by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Israel is expected to pass a controversial bill into law on Monday that will ban supporters of the pro-Palestine Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement - better known as BDS - from entering the country.

The bill, which received its final draft approval earlier this month, targets any individual "who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel". 

In its first reading in November, the bill received initial approval with a landslide margin of 42-15, with seven abstentions.

The legislation targets activists promoting economic sanctions against Israel due to the country's human rights abuses against Palestinians, and has seen huge momentum in recent years.

Critics have branded the proposed legislation a form of "political persecution" and said that it would wrongfully silence legitimate protest.

"We're all against boycotts of Israel," left-wing MK Tamar Zandberg was quoted by i24 as saying. "This law seeks to gag people on a political issue, and people must have the right to their political opinions."

Another Israeli lawmaker,Yael German, said the law will "only give our [Israel's] enemies flammable material with which to smear us".

Roy Folkman - the MK who has spearheaded the bill - has denied that the proposed law will target all BDS supporters, saying earlier this week that it is "aimed mainly at groups that work against Israel".

The BDS movement, Folkman claimed, goes beyond the boundaries of legitimate criticism of the "Jewish state".

In December, a Malawian national was denied entry at Israel's Ben Gurion for allegedly being an anti-Israel activist. This was the first such case since the controversial bill was introduced to Israel's legislature.

At present, Israel's interior minister holds the power to prohibit persons from entering Israel. Under the new proposal, the minister will be able to make exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

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