Monday, 21 June, 2010 – 22:26
A new bill (full translation below), the third in a series of proposed laws seeking to restrict the activities of peace activists and human rights organizations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), has been proposed by a group of Members of Knesset.
The first bill, tabled in February and known as the “NGO Funding Bill”, seeks to limit foreign governmental funding of activist groups in Israel, by defining their activities as political and denying them charitable status.
The second bill, tabled in April, will close down and forbid registration of charities involved in or providing information for overseas law suits against Israeli officials suspected of war crimes. This bill is known as the “Universal Jurisdiction Bill.”
The third bill, submitted to the Knesset Law Committee for approval on 15 June by 24 Members of Knesset from both the coalition and the opposition, is more comprehensive, and seeks to outlaw any activities promoting any kind of boycott against Israeli organisations, individuals or products, whether in illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) or in Israel proper.
The bill targets Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians and foreign governments and individuals, and, if passed into law, will impose fines, economic sanctions and entry bans against initiators or supporters of boycott activities.
This bill was proposed after a decision was taken by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to cut all business ties with the illegal Israeli settlements and to boycott their produce.
If it becomes law, the bill will lead to the imposition of heavy financial and property-related sanctions on the Palestinian Authority (defined by Israel as “a foreign political entity”) and on individual Palestinians, and could reverse existing contracts and agreements with Israel.
All three proposals were tabled in the wake of incitement campaigns by right wing groups and agitators against Israeli human rights groups, peace activists, critical academics and liberal grant-givers (such as the New Israel Fund).
If passed, the laws will seriously damage the financial viability of NGOs and their ability to function legally in Israel and the OPT. They will criminalize some NGOs’ activities as well as those of volunteer peace activists and intellectuals who work together with groups overseas for human rights and social justice.
All the bills await further votes in the Knesset before they can pass into law.
Translation of the proposed bill, “Prohibition on imposing a boycott – 2010” (unofficial)
Law proposal by MKs Zeev Elkin, Dalia Itzik, Arieh Eldad, Ophir Akonis, Tzahi Hanegbi, Moshe Gafni, David Rotem, David Azulai, Zevulun Orlev, Yariv Levin, Hayim Katz, Yoel Hasson, Tzipi Hotovely, Lia Shemtov, Robert Iltuv, Abraham Michaeli, Menachem Eliezer Mozes, Yaakov Katz, Ruchama Avraham-Balila, Magali Wahba, Karmel Shama, Danny Danon, Itzhak Vaknin, Uri Maklev
Proposed bill – Prohibition on imposing a boycott – 2010
1. “Person” – as defined in the Law of Interpretation 1981;
“Area under the control of the state of Israel” – including the areas of Judea and Samaria;
“Boycott” – demanding that others not maintain relations with a person;
“Boycott against the state of Israel” – boycott imposed on a person because of his relations with the state of Israel or with areas under the control of the state of Israel;
“Foreign political entity” – as defined in article 36a(a) of the Law of Associations 1980
Prohibition on boycott against the state of Israel:
2. It is prohibited to initiate a boycott against the state of Israel, to encourage participation in a boycott, or to provide assistance or information with the intention of promoting a boycott.
Boycott – a civil wrong:
3. An act of a citizen or resident of Israel in violation of Article 2 constitutes a civil wrong and the orders of tort law [new version] shall apply to it.
4. The court shall order damages for a civil injustice done as defined in this law in the following manner:
a) punitive damages of up to 30,000 NIS to the injured party, subject to evidence of injury done;
b) Additional damages in accordance with the scale of injury and subject to evidence of injury.
5. In addition to the provisions of Article 4, a resident or citizen of Israel who acts in violation of Article 2 shall pay a fine as defined in Article 61(a)(3) of the Penal Law 1977.
Those who are not residents or citizens of Israel:
6. A person who is not a resident or citizen of Israel and a Magistrates’ Court has defined at the request of the Minister of Interior that he has acted in violation of Article 2:
a) His right to enter Israel shall be revoked for ten years at least;
b) Until the end of the revocation of his right to enter Israel, he and his representatives shall be forbidden to carry out any action in Israeli bank accounts, in shares traded in Israel, in lands or in any other property demanding registration of transfer.
A boycott imposed by a foreign political entity:
7. If a foreign political entity passed a law imposing boycott on the state of Israel, and so long as it has not canceled this law; or if the [Israeli] government has determined by a majority that a foreign political entity has violated Article 2, and so long as the government has reached no other decision:
a) The foreign political entity and its representatives shall be prohibited from carrying out any action in Israeli bank accounts, in shares traded in Israel, in land or in any other property requiring registration of transfer;
b) No sum of money or property shall be transferred by any organ of the state of Israel to the foreign political entity or its representatives, under laws, agreements or governmental decisions that were adopted prior to the definition according to Article 7 or to enactment of the law;
c) Israeli citizens or the state treasury, who are damaged by a boycott imposed by a foreign political entity, may sue for damages from the sum accumulated according to paragraph (a) under the provisions of Article 4 above and subject to necessary changes.
8. The Minister of Justice is appointed to set regulations for the implementation of this law, and he shall consult the Minister of Interior with regard to implementing the provisions of Article 6(a).
9. a) The law shall apply from the day of its publication;
b) Despite paragraph (a) above, anyone who has initiated a boycott or encouraged participation in boycott according to Article 2 in the year prior to the publication of the law, it shall be assumed that he is still initiating a boycott or calling for a boycott even after the publication of the law.
This law aims to protect the state of Israel in general and its citizens in particular from academic, economic and other boycotts, which are imposed as a result of any ties to the state of Israel. In the USA there is a similar law that protects its friends from boycott by a third party, and the assumption is that a citizen or resident of the state shall not call for the imposition of a boycott on his own country or of its allies. This assumption has proved untrue with regard to the citizens and residents of Israel. If the USA protects its friends through law, it should be self-evident that Israel has the duty and the right to protect itself and its citizens through law. The proposed bill distinguishes between three different types of boycott: a boycott imposed by a resident or citizen of Israel; a boycott imposed by a foreign citizen or resident; and a boycott imposed by a foreign political entity, according to the definition of the Israeli government or according to a law enacted by the foreign political entity. The balance between public and state interests and individual liberties is expressed through the limitation of the law’s applicability to the initiation or promotion of a boycott, while abstaining from involvement in the personal decisions of individuals choosing a product or a service.