Israeli legislators passed a law Monday prohibiting any and all domestic boycotts against the country and its West Bank settlements as part of an attempt to oppose what they see as a global attack on the state’s legitimacy.

The bill makes economic, cultural and academic boycotts against the state — such as an instance last year when Israeli theater artists refused to perform at a new cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel — subject to lawsuits or fines. Also, companies supporting boycotts could be excluded from bidding on government work and nonprofit organizations could lose tax benefits. The 38 of the Knesset’s 85 lawmakers who voted against the measure said it is an assault on democracy and freedom of expression. –ARK

The New York Times:

The Israeli Parliament on Monday passed contentious legislation that effectively bans any public call for a boycott against the state of Israel or its West Bank settlements, making such action a punishable offense.

Critics and civil rights groups denounced the new law as antidemocratic and a flagrant assault on the freedom of expression and protest. The law’s defenders said it was a necessary tool in Israel’s fight against what they called its global delegitimization.

… Last year, Israeli theater artists refused to perform at a new cultural center in the urban settlement of Ariel and in other West Bank settlements, causing a public uproar. They were followed by scores of leftist Israeli academics, writers and intellectuals who said that they would not lecture at the center or in any of the settlements.

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