Monday, April 20, 2015

Anti-Israel boycotters, including NIF-funded NGOs, lose legal appeal in Israel

Israel's High Court of Justice largely rejected an appeal against a law which limits Israelis’ ability to call for boycotts of West Bank settlements.

The 2011 law does not make a boycott a criminal offense, but allows plaintiffs to file a civil lawsuit demanding compensation from those who call for boycotts.

Defenders of the law said it prohibits discrimination based on geography.

Petitioners against the law and in support of boycotts included:
  • Ta'al - Arab parliament group 
  • Knesset member Ahmad Tibi
  • Supreme Monitoring Committee for Arab Affairs in Israel
  • *Coalition of Women for Peace
  • *Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
  • *Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)
  • *HaMoked
  • *Yesh Din
  • *Adalah
  • Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
  • Israel movement for reform and progressive Judaism 

* = NGO funded by the New Israel Fund

A panel of nine judges determined that the law was mostly on solid ground. Only one, important, clause was rejected: a section stipulating that courts may order unlimited sums in compensation to plaintiffs without proof of damages.

While Justice Hanan Meltzer, who wrote the majority opinion, agreed that the law limited free speech, he asserted that the limitation was in this case proportionate as boycotts were, in general, an undesired measure.

Meltzer said the only clause which could disproportionately limit free speech was the one the court elected to annul.

...The ruling came against a backdrop of an international boycott campaign against Israel.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who initiated the law, said the aim was to prevent discrimination against people based on where they lived. He said Israel has to defend itself against those aiming to harm it.

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