Heated Debate in Knesset Over Boycott Law: 'Legislation Will Stain Israeli Democracy'

Meretz MKs attack law that would penalize anyone calling for a boycott of Israel or the settlements; MK Gilon: Law would further delegitimize Israel.

The Knesset discussed Monday the "boycott law", which proposes penalizing persons or organizations who call for a boycott of Israel or the settlements. Later on Monday the MKs will vote on the law.

MK Nitzan Horowitz from Meretz blasted the proposed law, calling it outrageous and shameful. "We are dealing with a legislation that is an embarrassment to Israeli democracy and makes people around the world wonder if there is actually a democracy here," he said. Ilan Gilon, another Meretz MK, said the law would further delegitimize Israel.

Boycott - Michal Fattal - July 11, 2011
Michal Fattal

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held discussions with Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin and MK Zeev Elkin, who proposed the law. The three discussed whether to have the Knesset vote on the law on Monday, a day after MK Dan Meridor warned that approving the law on the same day of the Quartet meeting may cause damage to Israel. Before midnight on Sunday the prime minister's office announced there is no reason to delay the vote.

Before the vote, the Knesset's legal adviser, attorney Eyal Yanon, published a legal assessment saying parts of the law edge towards "illegality and perhaps beyond." He went on to warn that the law "damages the core of freedom of expression in Israel." Yanon's assessment contradicts that of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who said the bill is legal.