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Israel issues new guidelines for banning boycott supporters

Israel says being critical of Israeli policies does not prohibit people from entering the country
People take part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration on 10 October 2015 in Paris (AFP)

The Israeli government has issued new criteria on Tuesday for banning people who advocate boycotting Israel.

The announcement came a day after five interfaith activists were prohibited from boarding a flight from the US to Israel reportedly because of their involvement in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The new standards, established by a government committee, bar advocates and organisations that promote boycotting Israel “in an active, continuous and ongoing manner”.

"It should be emphasised that the fact that an anti-Israeli or pro-Palestinian organisation has a critical agenda towards the policy of the Israeli government does not constitute a cause for preventing entry into Israel," a statement by the Israel's Interior Ministry reads.

The statement added that efforts to delegitimise Israel are a “significant threat” to the country’s strength and national security.

The ban includes senior and influential members of groups that call for boycott, as well as individuals visiting Israel as representatives of such organisations.

Established figures, such as city mayors, who promote a boycott will also be banned under the new guidelines. So will prominent individual activists who “consistently” support BDS.

The statement says that Israeli officials can make exceptions to allow individuals who meet the ban criteria into Israel.

Five Americans prohibited from flying to Israel over BDS support: Report
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The law imposing the ban was passed by the Knesset in March.

The five US activists who were prohibited from flying to Israel on Monday were travelling with an interfaith delegation that aims to meet with religious leaders in both Israel and Palestine.

Three of them were members of Jewish Voice for Peace, a US organisation that promotes Palestinian rights.

“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” Rabbi Alissa Wise said in a JVP press release.

Israel defended its decision to prevent the five travellers from going to Israel.

"These were prominent activists who continuously advocate for [sic] a boycott and who sought to come [to Israel] as part of a delegation of extremist boycott organisations whose entire purpose is to harm Israel," Interior Minister Arye Dery and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a joint statement, according to Haaretz.

BDS supporters say their tactics can push Israel to comply with international law, drawing comparisons with the successful international boycott campaign against the apartheid government in South Africa.

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