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Israeli bill sanctioning boycotters expected to pass

JTA

July 11, 2011 | 10:40 am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The Knesset is expected to adopt a bill that would sanction individuals or organizations calling for a boycott of Israel or its settlements.

Lawmakers, who are addressing the Knesset plenum on the bill, are scheduled to vote later Monday evening. The measure has passed its first reading; it must go through two more readings.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked lawmakers on Sunday evening to delay the vote on the controversial bill, saying that it could embarrass Israel as the Mideast Quartet opened a meeting in Washington over the Palestinian Authority’s intention to file a request with the United Nations at the end of the week seeking recognition of a Palestinian state.

On Monday morning, the Prime Minister’s Office said it would not stop readings on the bill.

Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon told the plenum Monday that the bill is “borderline illegal” since it could violate freedom of political expression.

The bill, initiated by Likud lawmaker and ruling coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, also would allow for civil lawsuits against individuals and groups calling for anti-Israel boycotts, and would force the government to stop doing business with companies that comply with those boycotts.

The proposed law came after Israeli artists called for a boycott of a new cultural center in the West Bank city of Ariel, and academics called for a boycott of academic institutions in the West Bank. An Israeli construction company was hired to build a new Palestinian city in the West Bank after it agreed not to use products from the settlements.

Israeli civil rights groups have been working to quash the bill.

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