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Elkin: Extremely moral bill Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Elkin: Extremely moral bill Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
 
Oppenheimer. Sent 120 black flags Photo: Gil Yohanan
Oppenheimer. Sent 120 black flags Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Knesset braces for 'Boycott bill' vote

Plenum in uproar over bill declaring boycotts against any Israeli organization an offense, even if located in West Bank. Opposition, Coalition MKs plan massive attendance for vote while campaigns attempt to hold sway

Moran Azulay
Published: 07.10.11, 10:16 / Israel News

The Knesset is scheduled to vote Monday on a "Boycott bill" aimed against anyone who declares an academic, economic, or artistic boycott on Israeli official or civilian organizations, even those located in West Bank settlements.

 

The bill will be put through its second and third reading Monday, and its opposition plans to put up a fight. A rally has been planned for the day of the vote, while in the Knesset members of the Opposition parties will fill out all available seats to vote against the bill.

 

 

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The Coalition is equally determined to make a stand at the awaited vote, but in order to do so they will have to sit through a good deal of vehement speeches. "Opposing Knesset members have many reservations and the list of speakers is apparently quite long," said one Coalition member.

 

"But it doesn't matter. The Coalition will not leave the plenum before the bill is passed, even if it takes place at dawn."

 

The bill, which is backed by the Cabinet, was proposed by Coalition chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud). It states that any boycott against Israel or any group located within its territory, including Judea and Samaria, will be labeled a civil offense and its initiators will be subject to litigation.

 

Boycotters will be susceptible to demands for compensation that far outweighs the damage done to those boycotted, in addition to a prohibition from competing in state tenders.

 

The bill was approved by the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee two weeks ago. The deputy attorney general said at the time that the bill was shaky, but defensible in the High Court of Justice.

 

'Severer bill already exists in US'

Peace Now has declared war against the bill with a new campaign attempting to influence voting MKs. Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer claims it violates freedom of expression.

 

The leftist group sent 120 black flags to the Knesset members as well as a letter to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin asking him not to promote the bill. "This law is marked by a black flag signaling the destruction of democracy," Oppenheimer said in the letter.

 

On the other side, the Yesha Council has expressed its strong support for the bill. "Boycotts are one way in which war is declared in Israel," said Council Chairman Danny Dayan. "This bill already exists in a more severe form in the US."

 

Dayan hopes the bill can also be expanded to include boycotting entities outside of Israel, such as foreign states and international corporations.

 

"This law is extremely moral and provides a response to the boycott trend that is unfortunately spreading today," said MK Elkin in defense of the bill.

 

"In the bill, we have struck a balance between freedom of speech and legitimate defense of the State of Israel through compensating those harmed by boycotts."

 

 

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