Israeli Lawmaker Moves to Stop BDS Groups From Funding Colleagues' Trips Abroad

Likud's Yoav Kish is capitalizing on the new list preventing entry into Israel by boycott activists, though a Knesset colleague decries the 'flood of fascist legislation'

MK Yoav Kish in the Knesset, 2017.
Emil Salman

The chairman of the Knesset House Committee, Yoav Kish, aims to get new ethics rules approved that would forbid groups that call for a boycott of Israel or the settlements from financing MKs trips abroad.

MK Kish (Likud) plans to submit his proposal on Wednesday, basing it on the list of organizations drawn up by the Strategic Affairs Ministry to prevent boycott, divestment and sanctions activists from entering Israel. Kish said that as far as he could tell, at least one of those groups, American Muslims for Palestine, had funded a trip for MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List).

Last week the Strategic Affairs Ministry published its list as it prepares to implement the law that forbids major activists of these groups from entering Israel. The list comprises mainly European and American organizations, an organization from Latin America, one from South Africa and the BDS National Committee, a coordinating body. The only exclusively Jewish organization on the list is the Jewish Voice for Peace.

I tried to advance a similar measure in the past, but there was a dispute over who would determine the list of organizations and who would decide which group couldnt legitimately fund trips for MKs, Kish said. Now, after the Strategic Affairs Ministry has published a list of boycott organizations, I decided to use it.

The Knesset legal advisory team is examining the legal feasibility of Kishs move and will provide its opinion in time for the next committee hearing.

Tibi protested the new initiative. This is a transparent and arbitrary attempt to undermine MKs immunity and their freedom of movement. Boycotting the settlements is legitimate, as is everything happening with boycotting the occupation, he said.

We will continue to attend conferences of our choice, and I hope that the ethics committee wont turn into a government tool to restrict the opposition, including the Arab MKs . This flood of fascist legislation is the height of McCarthyism.