Bill Aims to Cut Funding to Political Parties That Support Settlement Boycott

Avigdor Lieberman submits bill after Hadash and Meretz expressed support for boycotting settlement products.

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A pro-BDS student at an Open Hillel Conference.
A pro-BDS student at an Open Hillel Conference.Credit: Gili Getz

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will decide on Sunday whether to direct the coalition to support a bill by Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman that would withdraw funding from parties that support the boycott of Israeli or settlement products.

Lieberman’s bill is a response to a statement by Hadash and Meretz expressiing support for the boycott of settlement products and the justification expressed by MK Basel Ghattass (Joint List) for a boycott of Israel.

Parties that knowingly make a public call for boycotting Israel in a situation in which there is a reasonable chance the call will lead to a boycott, will not be eligible for funding, according to the bill.

Meretz leader Zehava Galon at the launching of the party's 2015 Knesset election campaign.Credit: Moti Milrod

“Parallel to the fight Israel is waging against boycotts, sanctions and other funding attacks by countries and international organizations and anti-Israel groups around the world interested in hurting Israel, it is fitting that the state itself does not fund parties in the Knesset calling on or supporting such a boycott,” reads the bill.

“These actions against ‘Israeli trade’ are a new form of the same old anti-Semitism that certainly has no place in the Knesset.”

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs of the Israel Democracy Institute issued a sharp rebuttal of Lieberman’s bill to committee members.

Joint Arab List head Ayman OdehCredit: Gil Eliyahu

“Funding parties is not a privilege that the government metes out,” they wrote. “A party’s survival depends on it. Without it, one of the elementary rights in a democracy – the right to elect and be elected – will be engangered.”

They argued that defunding a party on the basis of its position on the most controversial issue in Israeli politics, the future of the territories, is extremist and attacks the roots of the democratic process. “This is an attempt to limit freedom of political expression, which is the most protected right of expression, over the most controversial issue in Israeli political discourse,” they argued.

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