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Knesset Advancing Bill to Silence ‘Breaking the Silence’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Knesset approved on a preliminary reading a bill that would prevent a controversial organization of Israeli army veterans  from entering Israelis schools.

The legislation passed Wednesday by a vote of 51-17 targets Breaking the Silence, which collects former soldiers’ testimonies, some published anonymously, that accuse the Israeli military of using excessive force against Palestinians. Some of the former soldiers speak about their experiences in schools in Israel and in venues around the world.

Under the measure, which must still pass two more readings, the education minister would have the authority to ban speakers at schools from organizations whose activities could lead to Israeli soldiers being prosecuted in international bodies.

The legislation was a joint initiative of Naftali Bennett, the education minister and head of the Jewish Home party, and Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Yesh Atid party.

Lapid, whose party is in the opposition, has said he supports the legislation because he is concerned that the school talks will lower the motivation of students to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. He also said Tuesday that the group “has been proven to be lying.”

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