The Israeli Knesset [official website] passed legislation Tuesday that would limit or eliminate entry visas or residency rights for those groups who call for economic, academic, or cultural boycotts of Israel or its West Bank settlements. The legislation could limit [press release, in Hebrew] the entry of Palestinians who are temporary residents in Israel while their applications for permanent residency are under review. The new Entry into Israel Law (Amendment No. 27) aims to increase a sense of national cohesion and discourage boycotts of the county and its goods due to the controversy surrounding the West Bank Settlements.
While Israel and Palestine have a troubled past [HRW backgrounder], the issue of settlements in the West Bank have escalated tensions in the last decade. Last month, Israel-based advocacy groups Legal Center for Arab Rights and the Jerusalem Center for Human Rights and Legal Aid asked the Israeli Supreme Court [JURIST report] to review a new law that retroactively legalizes some 4,000 settlements in the West Bank. Last November, Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved [JURIST report] the Formalization Bill to legalize the West Bank outposts. In March the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said [JURIST report] that the office is concerned about the apparent extra-judicial execution of a Palestinian man in the West Bank. In January Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged [JURIST report] businesses to cease operations in Israel settlements. In August 2015 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides of the conflict [JURIST report] to reconcile and move towards peace after an attack occurred in the West Bank village of Duma, where Jewish extremists allegedly set fire to a Palestinian home while a family slept inside, which killed a child and severely wounded the child’s parents and siblings. The previous April HRW alleged [HRW report] that Israeli settlement farmers in the occupied West Bank are using Palestinian child laborers in dangerous conditions in violation of international laws.