Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

The Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday approved for a second and third (final) plenum vote a bill banning issuing a visa and residency to anyone calling for a boycott against Israel. The bill is sponsored, among others, by MKs Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Roy Folkman (Kulanu).

According to the introductory notes, as part of the State of Israel’s fight against the calls to boycott her, a person who is not an Israeli citizen or permanent resident will not receive an entry visa or any kind of residency permit if they, or the organization they serve, issued call to boycott or a commitment to take part in a boycott. At the same time, the Interior Minister may award a visa or residency for special reasons.

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Temporary residents who support boycotts against Israel would not be upgraded to permanent residency, meaning they could be expelled.

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) asked during the debate: “Why should I let into my home someone who slanders and harm my country? We are not afraid of criticism, but we do have national pride/ A person who has already received temporary residency from us, and is in line for permanent residency, gets up and harms us, as our guest, why should we let them stay?”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said the law’s intent is to “censor those who object to the occupation,” noting that it does not distinguish between boycotts against all of Israel and those against only Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

MK Smotrich argued against committee members who suggested the new law would be struck down by the Supreme Court, saying it is absolutely proportionate. “Anyone who is not ashamed to receive from us favors and privileges and during his test period (going from temporary to permanent residency) spits in our face – they are the first ones who should lose their visa.”

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