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Amnesty condemns Israel's anti-boycott law

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, July 13, IRNA -- Amnesty International has condemned Israel for passing a sweeping law to punish anyone for even calling for a boycott for political reasons as an attack on basic rights.

The controversial law passed by the Israeli Knesset making it an offence to call for a boycott against Israel or its West Bank settlements will have a “chilling effect on freedom of expression,” the London-based human rights organisation warned.

'Despite proponents’ claims to the contrary, this law is a blatant attempt to stifle peaceful dissent and campaigning by attacking the right to freedom of expression, which all governments must uphold,' said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

'The broad definition of boycott could apply to anyone seeking to use this non-violent means of dissent to criticize any individual or institution involved in human rights violations or violations of international law in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories.' Luther said.

The law, passed on Monday night, follows the growing success of the international Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which includes support from some Israeli human rights groups and NGOs.

It makes it a civil offence just to call for an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of people or institutions in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories for political reasons.

Sponsors of the bill, originally proposed in July 2010, made it clear that one of the main aims of the law is to penalize those using boycott calls to campaign against Israel's illegal settlements in the OPT or highlight the ongoing violations of Palestinian rights caused by the settlements.

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