TEL AVIV – The Knesset Internal Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved a bill banning boycott Israel activists from entering the country.
The bill, advanced by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), was approved for a second and third (final) readings.
“We should remember that the right to enter the State of Israel should not be taken for granted. There is no reason to allow someone who wants to harm the state to come in,” Smotrich told the committee.
“The bill allows the [interior] minister to act by his own judgment, but the default option is not to grant a visa, unless the minister says otherwise,” to any person issuing calls to boycott Israel, committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said. “Why should I let someone who slanders the state and harms it into my home? We are not afraid of criticism, but we have our national dignity.”
“If a person that received temporary residency from us comes and harms us, would we let them stay?” he asked.
Opposition MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) slammed the bill for silencing free speech. “The purpose of the bill is to censor the occupation objectors. All of us are against boycotting Israel, but this bill includes the call to boycott areas that are under Israeli military control.”
“This bill asks to silence people on the bases of political opinion, and people should have the right to have a political opinion here,” Zandberg added.
MK Yael German from the centrist Yesh Atid party said the bill was “irrelevant.”
“We are against boycott, but at the same time we are boycotting others,” she said.
“This bill only gives our enemies more fuel. Now they will say that we are silencing political views,” she added.