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Israel court to rule on anti-boycott law

Israeli rights groups on Sunday asked the Supreme Court to overturn the 2011 law that prevents Israelis from calling for a boycott of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, claiming that it violates the right to free speech. Although there is no precedent for it as of yet, the law makes a boycott call a civil issue [AP report] that could allow for lawsuits seeking compensation. Those who support the law say that it protects against geography-based discrimination. The examination of the boycott ban comes during a boycott campaign against products [NYT report] made in Israel's settlements on the West Bank by much of the international community, who says that the settlements are illegal because they are built on war-won land. The movement has been called immoral by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website], while executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations [official websites] Malcolm Hoenlein [official profile] accused it of being a politically correct form of antisemitism. The court is expected to deliver a ruling on whether the law will stand within the next few months.

In October top UN and EU officials denounced [JURIST report] the renewed plans for Israeli settlements by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of the Interior, which included building more than 1,500 homes in Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Earlier in October Netanyahu announced that Israel would participate in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] review [review docket] of its human rights record, ending an 18-month boycott. This marked another chapter in Israel's tumultuous relationship with the UNHRC. The UNHRC originally planned the review of the country last January, but were forced to postpone [JURIST report] because the Israeli government failed to send a representative. Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman cut ties [JURIST report] with the UNHCR in March 2012, after the council commenced an international investigation [press release] into Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2010, before the boycott, the Israeli ambassador called for an end [JURIST report] to the UNHRC investigation into Israeli actions during the 2008-2009 Gaza campaign [JURIST news archive], Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians. Despite this, the UNHRC in September of 2010 adopted a report [JURIST reports] criticizing Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla [JURIST news archive] and finding the country committed various violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

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