The Israeli parliament (Knesset) last night (11 July) passed a new law criminalizing support for the Palestinian civil society campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, penalizing Israeli persons and organizations active in the campaign, or indeed in any other partial boycott of Israel or any of its institutions. The repressive legislation also bars companies that refuse to to deal with Israels illegal colonies built on occupied Palestinian land from receiving government contracts.
Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition comprising all major political parties, trade unions, NGOs and mass organsations, said:
Israel is once again taking draconian measures to criminalize civil resistance to its system of apartheid, colonialism and occupation over the Palestinian people. But so long as Israel continues its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, brutal occupation, denial of Palestinian refugee rights and system of instituionalized discrimination against Palestinians, repressive acts such as these will only offer further evidence of the undemocratic and oppressive nature of Israeli political life and motivate even more people of conscience to join our global BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality.
This new legislation, which violates international law, is testament to the success of the rapidly growing global BDS movement and a realisation within political elites inside Israel that the state is becoming a world pariah in the way that South Africa once was.
Prof. Gabi Baramki, former head of Birzeit University and currently a Steering Committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), reacted to the new law saying: The boycott bill is but a continuation of the Knessets decades-old pivotal role in legislating Israeli apartheid, colonialism, and other forms of oppression of the Palestinian people.
Ms. Awwad also stated: We stand in solidarity with all principled Israeli citizens and organizations who are the primary target of this law, and whomay be fined and even imprisoned for exercising their fundamental right to speak out and act non-violently in order to bring their state into compliance with international law.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Palestinian civil society campaign for BDS calls for applying broad boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) initiatives against Israel, similar to those applied to South Africa during the apartheid era, until Israel meets its obligations under international law by respecting the basic right of the Palestinian people to self determination by ending its occupation and colonization of the 1967 territory, ending racial discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel, and granting Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned right to return.
2. Key BDS movement successes include the divestment campaign against French multinational Veolia, which has cost the company billions of dollars in lost contracts due to its ongoing involvement in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail and the decision taken by the Norwegian government to exclude Israeli companies involved in the construction of illegal settlements and the wall from its national pension investment fund. Earlier this year, the University of Johannesburg severed links with Ben Gurion University because of its complicity in human rights violations. Numerous artists have heeded the Palestinian cultural boycott call against Israel, including Roger Waters, Jello Biafra, the Pixies and Faithless. Carmel Agrexco, a partially state owned agricultural export company targeted by the BDS movement, recently announced record losses.