Israeli Knesset may punish lawmakers who support BDS

Published August 29th, 2016 - 01:30 GMT
The Israeli Knesset may introduce measures to punish MKs who support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. (AFP/File)
The Israeli Knesset may introduce measures to punish MKs who support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. (AFP/File)

Israel's Knesset House Committee plans to add a punishment for calling for a boycott of Israel to the legislature’s rulebooks when it returns from its summer recess at the end of October.

House Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) said he plans to amend Knesset regulations such that there will be consequences for such behavior.

The proposed change, the details of which Kisch has yet to reveal, was inspired by MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List), who called for a boycott of Israel at a radical left-wing conference in Montreal two weeks ago. 

The lawmaker from Balad, one of the four parties that make up the Joint List, called Israel an oppressive, racist and apartheid state. He said he is pessimistic that there will be peace soon, and international sanctions were the most effective way to combat Israel.

“It’s absurd,” Kisch said, “that we are still giving licenses to encourage boycotting Israel to our MKs. MK Ghattas has a license from the Knesset; a license to boycott the state of Israel in his travels around the world.”

The Likud MK vowed that the House Committee, under his leadership, will “act to change the regulations so that we will be able to punish incitement to boycotting Israel.”

Ghattas’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) said earlier this month that boycotts are a legitimate, non-violent democratic tool accepted around the world, and that limiting calls for boycotts violate the rules of democracy and freedom of expression.

“We may and we must boycott the settlements and their products, and we may promote that. The occupation deserves to be boycotted,” Tibi said.

However, Israel’s longest-serving Arab parliamentarian, former MK Taleb a-Sanaa, took a different tack, responding on Facebook to Ghattas’ speech, according to a translation by B’nai Brith Canada: “If the boycott is the solution, why don’t you resign from the Israeli parliament? And how can you ask the world what you don’t ask of yourself?”

By Lahov Harkov

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material.

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