Anti-boycott law violates human rights and undermines Israeli democracy

QCEA joins with 5 other NGOs and NGO networks to voice our grave concern about the ‘Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott – 2011’ which was adopted in the Knesset on 15 July 2011 in a 47 to 38 vote. It was approved despite serious concerns about whether it would stand up in to constitutional scrutiny. You can read the full statement on our website in English or French.

It defines a boycott as a new type of civil wrong or tort. It will enable settlers or other parties targeted by boycotts to sue anyone who calls for boycott, and the court may awared compensation including punititve damages even if no actual damage is caused to the boycotted parties.

It will also allow the revocation of tax exemptions and other legal rights and benefits from Israeli organisations and charities, from academic, cultural and scientific institutions which receive any state support if they engage in boycott.

It penalises Israeli businesses and industries if they work with the Palestinian Authority and accept conditions that exclude trade with businesses that also trade with settlements.

We consider the reduction in democratic space represented by this law a serious concern. Any attempt to legally curtail the right of people to engage in democratic debate is a worrying sign in any democracy but even more so when it happens in Israel just at a time when democracy movements are changing the political landscape in the Middle East and North Africa.

As one of the signatories of the statement we sent this to Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, to her Middle East Advisor and to the Director for the Middle East and North Africa, the Arabian Peninsular, Iran and Iraq, Christian Berger. We await their response.

About Martina Weitsch

Martina worked for Quaker Council for European Affairs as one of two Joint Representatives from 2002 to October 2012. Her main areas of work were the EU role in Palestine/Israel, EU peacebuilding, conflict prevention and crisis management, EU finances, democratic accountability and relations with the European Investment Bank.

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