West Bank law causes rift over right to show dissent

A Coalition of Israeli human rights groups said yesterday that it would ask the country's Supreme Court to scrap a new law that makes it illegal to boycott Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

A spokeswoman for the coalition, Tamara Traubmann, said the rights groups would submit their petition to the court within the coming week. Critics see the legislation, which was passed earlier this week, as the government's latest attempt to muzzle dissent.

The groups have already written a letter of protest to Israeli authorities saying that: "Irrespective of their own positions regarding the tactic of boycott, outlawing it severely restricts freedom of expression by targeting non-violent public expressions of opposition to Israeli policies."

The law was approved, even after parliament's legal adviser, Eyal Inon, warned that it would violate freedom of expression and was at least borderline illegal.

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