The Knesset plenum on Monday passed in first reading a bill which would impose harsh punitive fines on Israelis who call for academic or economic boycotts against Israeli institutions.
Thirty-two members of Knesset voted in favor of the "Boycott Law," while 12 MKs opposed it.
Among other things, the bill is aimed at punishing Israeli companies which won a tender for the construction of the Palestinian city Rawabi on condition that they do not supply services or sell merchandise to Jewish settlements in the West bank.
Likud MK Zeev Elkin, who initiated the bill, said "we've reached an absurd situation – as more and more boycott calls come from within us."
'Perpetuating the occupation'MK Hanna Swaid of the Hadash party said the law is aimed at "perpetuating the occupation," adding that it "violates freedom of expression and every citizen's right to choose to boycott products from the occupied territories. There is racism here which must be condemned."
Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said the government's goal is to "create a balance between the citizens' freedom of expression and our desire as a democracy to protect the State of Israel's economy."
A short while after the vote, the 'Citizenship Law" also passed its first reading on the Knesset floor. If passed into law, the controversial bill would allow the State to revoke the citizenship of individuals who were convicted of terror and espionage offences against Israel, as well as revoke the citizenship of those convicted of undermining Israel's sovereignty, instigating war or aiding the enemy.
The bill's initiators, MKs David Rotem and Robert Ilatov of Yisrael Beiteinu said the legislation is aimed at stressing the connection between the right to Israeli citizenship and loyalty to the state.
Arab MK Hanin Zoabi (National Democratic Assembly) said, "The Arabs for which the bill is intended are hardly citizens at all. To revoke citizenship – one must first grant citizenship. Arabs here are conditional citizens, because they will never be patriotic Zionists."
Another Arab lawmaker, Talab El-Sana of United Arab List-Ta'al, said "we are citizens because we were born on these mountains and hills."
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