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Knesset Set To Vote On Bill That Would Ban Entry To Supporters Of BDS

JERUSALEM – The Knesset is slated to vote on Monday on a bill that would ban entry into the country of supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and other individuals calling for boycotts of the Jewish state or of products made in West Bank settlements.

The bill, championed by hawkish Jewish Home lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich, was initially proposed by former Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal in October 2015.

At the time Magal said: “Approving this bill is the natural thing to do. It cannot be that a person trying to harm the State of Israel can enter it freely. Those who call for a boycott of Israel are using a form of terrorism against it and it is inconceivable that they will be allowed to walk about in the country undisturbed.”

The bill, which according to the Times of Israel enjoys support from right-wing and centrist lawmakers and is expected to pass if it is brought to a vote, would not apply to foreign nationals who have a residency permit and also leaves the interior minister leeway to make exceptions. Under current law, the interior minister has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel.

In its first reading in November, the bill was approved with 42 lawmakers in favor, 15 opposed, and seven abstentions, indicating that it should sail through smoothly when brought for a second and then third and final reading.

A spokesperson for Smotrich said the second and third votes were on the agenda for Monday, after the bill was inexplicably removed from the Knesset plenum’s agenda last week.

The vote on Monday, if it takes place, comes hot on the heels of US President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban entry to the US to travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“Without going into the policies of the [US] president, every sovereign nation must set its policies in accordance with what is good for it,” Smotrich’s spokesperson was quoted by the Times of Israel as saying. “The State of Israel need not and cannot allow entry to those calling for a boycott of it. The BDS leaders are working to spread anti-Semitism in the world and do everything in their power to harm the State of Israel. There is no reason to allow them entry to the State of Israel.”

But Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Friday also decided to allow 100 orphaned Syrian children to enter the Jewish state, where they will be adopted by Arab-Israeli foster families.

“Civilians have been slaughtered for years only a few dozen kilometers from Israel,” a statement from Deri’s office said on Friday. “I have decided to order professionals in my ministry to work toward absorbing children on humanitarian grounds in order to render assistance and rescue 100 of them from the horrors and afford them good and normal lives in Israel.”

At press time, it is unclear whether the bill banning BDS supporters from entering the country will make it to a vote on Monday or if it will be postponed to a later date.

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