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Leading Human Rights Organizations Petition the Israeli Supreme Court to Cancel the Anti-Boycott Law

Today, 11 March 2012, Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court seeking cancellation of the "Boycott Law," which imposes sanctions on any individual or entity who calls for an economic boycott of the settlements or of Israel.  The Knesset passed the Boycott Law in July 2011, in the wake of the decision of several prominent Israeli artists not to appear or perform in settlements in the West Bank as an act of protest against the occupation.
Adalah and ACRI submitted the petition in their own names and on behalf seven other organizations. Petitioners include the Coalition of Women for Peace, a women’s right organization that runs a special project under the name "Who Profits from the Occupation?" and collects financial information on Israeli and international companies that benefit economically from the Occupation of the Palestinian territory and the Syrian Golan Heights; the High Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, which openly calls for a boycott of Israeli settlement products; and the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, which believes that calling on the people of East Jerusalem to boycott Israel constitutes peaceful resistance to the Occupation. In addition, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, the Center for Reform for Religion and State, and Yesh Din are named petitioners in the case.

In the petition, Adalah attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Sawsan Zaher, and ACRI Legal Advisor Dan Yakir argued that the law imposes a "price tag" on legitimate political expression, and thus, undermines public debate on the most controversial issues in Israeli society. The law violates the constitutional rights of freedom of expression, dignity and equality. The petitioners argue that the law, due to the severe sanctions imposed, has created a "chilling effect" that deters all those wishing to express a political stance by calling for a boycott. 
The Boycott Law allows claimants injured by a boycott to seek to recover damages through tort lawsuits from those who called for it. The law also empowers the Minister of Finance to impose severe economic sanctions on Israeli individuals and groups and institutions that receive any state support if they call for a boycott or agree to participate.

Both the law itself and its impact on constitutional rights have been sharply criticized by civil society organizations in Israel, the European Union, the United States government, and international human rights organizations.  The Knesset’s legal adviser also expressed his strong stance against the law, stating that it constitutes "injury to heart of free political expression in Israel." (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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