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Human rights groups condemn Israel entry ban on BDS advocates

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Egyptian shouts anti-Israeli slogans in front of banners with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) logo during the launch of an Egyptian anti-Israel campaign in Cairo, Egypt, April 20, 2015. (Photo by AP)

Human rights groups have censured the Israeli regime’s recent law, which bans supporters of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement from entering the occupied territories.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) described the law as “blatantly anti-democratic.”

“We are not sure what was the need for the new law, apart from saying Israel does not want BDS supporters here. This law violates the most basic tenets of democracy,” the statement read.

On Monday, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed an anti-boycott bill following a 46-28 vote. The legislation, which had passed a first reading in the Israeli parliament in mid-January, denies entry permits and temporary residency permits to anyone who has publicly called for a boycott of Israel or represents an organization that has called for such a boycott.

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The statement further said, “This law is expected to pose a particularly serious blow to countless Palestinian families living in Israel and in East Jerusalem (al-Quds), whose members hold a temporary residency status or a temporary military-issued permit. These individuals will now be vulnerable to a revocation of their status and permits based upon their political opinions.”

The two groups had sent a letter to the Knesset prior to the adoption of the controversial law, urging the chamber to vote against the bill.

Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign take part in a rally in Cape Town, South Africa, on 21 September, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

In a similar stance, Israeli rights group B’Tselem also criticized the ban, with its executive director, Hagai el-Ad, saying “border control should not be used as thought control.”

Also reacting to the law was Israeli NGO Peace Now, which denounced the restrictive measure as undemocratic.

The law “will not prevent boycott but rather, deteriorate Israel’s international standing and lead Israel towards international isolation,” the organization said.

The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have joined the BDS to help promote the Palestinian cause, including scores of Palestinian and international trade unions, NGOs, academic and business societies, as well as cultural figures.

It has also gained support in countries such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Romania, South Africa and the United States.

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