“Whoever acts against Israel should understand the rules of the game have changed,” said Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan.
Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs said Monday it denied a prominent British boycott activist entry into the country.
Revital Yakin-Karkovsky, a senior ministry official, said Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign was prohibited Sunday from entering Israel because his organization had close ties to the Hamas terror group and was one of the leading forces seeking to delegitimize Israel.
Israel’s Parliament recently passed a law barring entry to supporters of the boycott movement. The measure drew fierce criticism from dovish groups, who condemned it as the latest in a series of steps to silence critics, and ministry officials struggled to explain how it would be enforced.
The boycott movement, also called the BDS movement, advocates boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel in what supporters say is a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian struggle for independence. It has urged businesses, artists, and universities to sever ties with Israel.
Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism and that its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.
The new law barring BDS supporters has yet to take effect. Yakin-Karkovsky said it would take weeks to formulate and Lanning was barred based on existing policies.
“No sane country would allow entry to key boycott activists working to harm the country’s core interests and lead to its isolation,” said Erdan.
Britain Has a Similar Law
Ben Jamal, the director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, called Lanning the “first victim” of the new legislation, though the bill has yet to become law.
“A democratic country does not behave in the way Israel is behaving,” he said.
Yakin-Karkovsky said it was reasonable for a country to refuse entry to foreigners with a declared intent of undermining it strategically and causing it harm. She pointed to a similar 1971 immigration law in Britain that granted authorities wide discretion to expel foreigners or decline their entry when it relates to the public interest or security considerations.
Israel says the boycott campaign goes beyond the Palestinian issue and masks a deeper aim of delegitimizing or even destroying the country.
The law, which was approved by Parliament last week, does not apply to Israeli citizens or permanent residents. It states that no visa or residence permit will be given to anyone who, “knowingly issued a public call to impose a boycott against the State of Israel or committed to participate in a boycott.”
In a seemingly new development on how the law may be implemented, the Haaretz newspaper reported Monday night that police detained Jeff Halper, an American-Israeli pro-Palestinian activist, last week on incitement allegations after BDS materials were found in his possession.
Police released him after questioning, the report said.