Israel's hardliners seek to outlaw settlement boycotts

Israeli politicians were last night debating a bill that would punish any of its nationals who call for a cultural, academic or economic boycott of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

Human rights campaigners say the bill, sponsored by right-wing politicians, is profoundly undemocratic and would deal a severe blow to freedom of speech if passed.

The bill is the product of hawkish politicians, who have bristled at domestic dissent towards Israeli policies – and in particular criticism of the settlement enterprise, viewed by many Israelis as an obstacle to a two-state solution. About 300,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The bill has provoked fierce criticism from the left, and non-governmental organisations have denounced it as anti-democratic and a violation of free speech, arguing that it robs Israelis of a means of protesting the occupation. The debate on boycotts was thrust into the public domain last summer after the Palestinians' decision to boycott settlement goods infuriated right-wing Israelis.

At the same time, a wave of high-profile international performers, among them the Pixies and Elvis Costello, cancelled performances in Israel, citing their discomfort with the occupation.

The backlash against homegrown boycotts appeared to grow in response to the refusal of a group of Israeli artists to perform at a new cultural centre in Ariel, a Jewish settlement deep inside the occupied West Bank.

And investors in a new Palestinian city provoked anger when they hired Israeli contractors on condition that they would not use materials or services from the settlements.

"It is a law for armour-plating the settlements, turning them into a sacred and immune cow, since anyone who dares to criticise it will pay dearly – quite literally," said Uri Avnery, an Israeli former politician.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled Maintenance Engineer - Electrical Bias

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Grantham, Lincolnshire...

Recruitment Genius: Data Centre & Systems Support Engineers

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This accelerated growth ISP company is current...

Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administrator - London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administra...

Recruitment Genius: .NET Web Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003