Proposed bill, “Prohibition on imposing a boycott – 2010” (unofficial translation)

Eighteenth Knesset

Law proposal by MKs Zeev Elkin, Dalia Itzik, Arieh Eldad, Ophir Akonis, Tzahi Hanegbi, Moshe Gafni, David Rotem, David Azulai, Zevulun Orlev, Yariv Levin, Hayim Katz, Yoel Hasson, Tzipi Hotovely, Lia Shemtov, Robert Iltuv, Abraham Michaeli, Menachem Eliezer Mozes, Yaakov Katz, Ruchama Avraham-Balila, Magali Wahba, Karmel Shama, Danny Danon, Alex Miller, Itzhak Vaknin, Uri Maklev

Bill – Prohibition on imposing a boycott – 2010
1. In this law –
“Area under the control of the state of Israel” – including the areas of Judea and Samaria;
 “Boycott against the state of Israel” – boycott imposed on a person because of his relations with the state of Israel or with areas under the control of the state of Israel;

Prohibition on boycott against the state of Israel:
2. It is prohibited to initiate a boycott against the state of Israel, to encourage participation in a boycott, or to provide assistance or information with the purpose of promoting a boycott.

Boycott – a civil wrong:
a) An act of a citizen or resident of Israel in violation of Article 2 constitutes a civil wrong and the orders of tort law [new version] shall apply to it, subject to the provisions of this law.
b)The court shall order damages for a civil wrong as defined in this law for a sum of up to 30,000 NIS to the injured party, with no need of demonstrating that injury was done; this sum will be updated on the 16th of every month according to the new index.
Regarding this –
“Index” – the customers price index as published by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
“New index” – the index of the month prior to the update.
“Basic index” – the index of June 2010.
c) If the court finds that injury was caused of a value exceeding that stipulated in section 3a, the court is permitted to rule damages according to the injury caused and subject to evidence presented before it.

Penal law:
4. A resident or citizen of Israel who acts in violation of Article 2 shall pay double the fine defined in Article 61(a)(3) of the Penal Law 1977.

5. The Minister of Justice is appointed to implement this law and is authorised to set regulations for its implementation, including regulations for hearings in the District Court and for appeal of the decisions of the District Court in accordance with this law.

This law aims to protect the state of Israel in general and its citizens in particular from academic, economic and other boycotts, which are imposed on the state, its citizens and corporations within it, as a result of their ties to the state of Israel. In the USA there is a similar law that protects its friends from boycott by a third party, and the assumption is that a citizen or resident of the state shall not call for the imposition of a boycott on his own country or of its allies. This assumption has been disproven with regard to the citizens and residents of Israel. If the USA protects its friends through law, it should be self-evident that Israel has the duty and the right to protect itself and its citizens through law.
The balance between public and state interests and individual liberties is expressed through the limitation of the law’s applicability to the initiation or promotion of a boycott, while abstaining from involvement in the personal decisions of individuals choosing a product or a service.

The Knesset process

In Israel, the stages of legislating such a bill are:

1. Initiation

2. Preliminary vote (passed July 2010)

3. Committee  work

4. Bill as drafted by the committee >> vote by the consitutional committee (passed today 15 Feb 2011)

5. First reading of the bill in the Knesset plenary + vote

6. Committee work

7. Approval of the bill (=Plenary debate + 2nd and 3rd readings and votes together)

ON 15 February Stage 4 was completed. Those who objected to the bill walked out of the Knesset in protest at the end of a stormy debate, after which the vote was held and the bill was approved for continuation to a vote on its first reading (Stage 5). Civil servants from the Foreign Ministry objected to the bill saying it would damage Israel overseas.

The bill can be summarised as follows:

  • It no longer includes sanctions against foreign individuals or states and is no longer retroactive in application.
  • Its main targets are now Israeli citizens and organisations.
  • Its geographical application is sweepting (both Israel and settlements in the OPT).
  • Its definition of the violation of ‘boycott’ is very broad (‘It is prohibited to initiate a boycott against the state of Israel, to encourage participation in a boycott, or to provide assistance or information with the purpose of promoting a boycott.’) remain.
  • Violators of the law can be sued for damages of up to NIS 30,000 without any need for evidence that injury was caused to the boycotted or potentially boycotted party/ies.
  • In addition, violators will be fined by the state under the Penal Law