Israeli Bill Calling to Imprison BDS Activists for Up to Seven Years Will Be Rejected, Senior Official Says
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to reject a bill on Sunday that proposes a seven-year jail term for anyone taking part in a boycott against Israel, a senior committee source said.
âThe hurting Israelâs interests legislation wonât pass,â the source said.
The bill was initiated by MK Anat Berko (Likud) and is co-signed by MKs David Bittan, David Amsalem, Yoav Kisch as well as a few lawmakers from Kulanu and Haredi parties.
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âThe bill is intended for those who participate in the movement to boycott Israel or its products,â an explanatory introduction says. Sources close to Berko said the wording doesnât clarify what it means by saying âIsraeli interests,â which the legislation says it aims to protect, and will enable the prosecution of settlement boycotters as well, including those who eschew settlement products. The bill could also be used as a means to prosecute activities abroad such as those by representatives of Breaking the Silence and BâTselem.
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Current law provides a maximum 10 year prison term for anyone convicted of attempting to do damage to Israel and a life sentence for more serious offenses.
Berko has submitted an amendment âwhich proposes to expand the law to include not only cases of actions taken t o hurt Israel but also actions that could hurt Israeli interests or its relations with other countries or organizations.â
The billâs initiators say âIt is possible to criticize Israel, and freedom of expression shouldnât be undermined, heaven forbid. But whoever lends a hand to boycotts, hurts the Israeli economy or hurts Israel in another way, such as by academic boycott, must be called to account for it. This is the difference between legitimate criticism and harm done by brutality. A (boycott) hurts Israel and its citizens.â
The Israeli Democracy Institute sent an opinion to ministers against the bill. The opinion written by Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs, says that the bill is liable to target government opponents. They write that it is uncl ear what constitutes Israeli interests and a citizen would not necessarily understand what the phrasing means. They call the bill âshameful, making a mockery of Israel and inappropriate for a democratic country.â
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The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has also protested against the bill. âCoalition members continue to compete with each other over who will propose the most extremist legislation. This time we have lawmakers seeking to make it a crime to exercise the freedom of speech and protest in an effort to quash all criticism of the occupation,â the organization said.
Attorney Michael Sfard added: âThe billâs current wording doesnât focus on boycotts. In effect, it could be used to jail someone for seven years simply for criticizing Israel in forums abroad; in other words, the entire Israeli human rights community.âSource: Google News Israel | Netizen 24 Israel