(JTA) — Israel enacted a law banning entry to foreigners who publicly call for boycotting the Jewish state or its settlements.
The Knesset passed the law by a vote of 46-28 on Monday, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
The ban applies to any foreigner “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.” It includes those who urge boycotting areas under Israeli control, such as the West Bank settlements.
The measure was meant to target groups, rather than individuals, according to Roy Folkman, a lawmaker from the Kulanu party.
“It doesn’t cover any individual who ever said something. It’s aimed mainly at organizations that work against Israel,” Folkman said, according to Haaretz.
The Interior Ministry will be able to make exceptions to the law, and foreigners with residency permits will not be affected, according to The Times of Israel.
Last week, Israel denied a tourist visa to an American employee of Human Rights Watch days after denying his application for a work visa, citing the organization’s alleged anti-Israel bias. In explaining the visa denial, the Israeli government said the group’s “public actions and reports have focused on politics in service of Palestinian propaganda while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights.’”
Iain Levine, the program director for Human Rights Watch, said it was “deeply troubling that Israeli officials, despite promises to the contrary, have denied Human Rights Watch’s country director a visa to enter Israel.”
“Blocking access for human rights workers impedes our ability to document abuses by all sides and to engage the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and partners to improve the human rights situation for all,” he said.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.