Bill to Ban BDS Activists From Entering Israel Passes First Reading

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Legislation aimed at banning boycotters of Israel from entering the country passed a first reading in the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee on Monday.

The proposal, which has coalition backing, would deny entry to individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or representing an NGO that does, but would allow the interior minister to make exceptions. It was approved by the committee 8-5, clearing the way for discussion and voting in the plenum.

Meretz MK Michal Rozin spoke against it, arguing that the law was “completely unnecessary” and would only provoke more criticism of Israel abroad, like other measures passed against left-wing NGOs.

“The interior minister already has the ability to stop anti-Israel groups coming into the country. All this law does is take away his ability to make considered decisions,” she said. “It does nothing productive and will make us look bad.”

Under existing law, the interior minister has the authority to bar individuals from entering Israel. But the new law would see the establishment of a list of individuals and organizations labeled as anti-Israel, from which the minister could make exceptions.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), who ushered the bill through committee, welcomed the vote, calling it a sign of a “healthy country” that acts to protect itself against its enemies.