Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Israeli State Attorney finds it difficult to defend 'Boycott Law'

State asks Supreme Court for another postponement in answering Supreme Court appeals against "Boycott Law"; Gush Shalom: State Attroeny's Office finds it hard to a defense for a law to which it strongly objected.

The State Attorney's Office asked the Supreme Court judges to give them  more time for answering the appeals lodged against the "Boycott Law". It is now nearly six months since the Knesset adopted this law in a stormy late-night session. Gush Shalom appealed the very next morning, and later came additional appeals by KM Ahmad Tibi and by a citizen group headed by Adv. Adi Barkai. However, the State Attorney was unable to keep the date set by the judges for giving his response, again and again asking for more time and arguing that "the relevant parties must formulate clearly their positions".

Att. Gaby Lasky, representing Gush Shalom, asked the court to require the state to submit its position with no further delays, because everyone involved already had more than enough time to study the issue. In fact, the relevant parties had formulated their positions already before the Knesset passed the law, and already presented their position to the Knesset itself at the time when its the Legislative Committee debated the law in preparation for the second and third reading. At that meeting Adv. Raz Nizri, Deputy State Attorney, stated that this law was "a borderline case".

Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesman, commented: "I can sympathize with the situation of the State Attorney's staff, who find it difficult to formulate a defense for a law with which they were themselves not happy, to say the least, and having tried their best to dissuade the right-wing majority in the Knesset from enacting it".

Keller noted that the law already came into effect long since, and that under it anyone who calls for a boycott of the settlements and their products is liable to be prosecuted and heavily fined, in practice not a single such lawsuit has as yet been filed. "Actually, there had never been so many calls for a boycott of settlement products since the law was enacted intended to outlaw such calls. Various private persons, groups and movements – who had not participate in the boycott campaign conducted by Gush Shalom from 1996 until the enactment of the Boycott Law in July 2011 -  came out with such boycott calls, in the press and on Facebook, precisely following the enactment of this law.  Hundreds of people signed their name on such ads and petitions, knowingly and consciously exposing themselves to the risk of heavy lawsuits. In the sphere of public discourse, this law in effect constitutes a self-goal scored by the settlers and their supporters in their own net."

Keller added: "We intend to file with the Supreme Court as an exhibit an advertisement published by the Religious Council and the Municipal Rabbinate of the city of Holon. Under the heading of 'Let the public observe and take care', it calls upon the city's residents not to buy at a particular shop whose name and address were prominently noted in the ad. That, because the shop owners do not maintain a strict separation between meat and milk, as required by Judaism's dietary laws. Throughout the country, such ads are regularly published by the Chief Rabbinate and municipal Rabbinate, indicating the names and addresses of shops and restaurants and urgently calling upon the public not to buy there.
We do not dispute the right of rabbis to publish such calls. A large section of the public in this country strongly cares about maintaining a separation between meat and milk, and those people have the right for watchdog to alert them on such issues. But there is also a large section of the public which cares just as deeply about the difference between the internationally recognized sovereign territory of Israel and the Occupied Territories, between a legitimate community and a settlement established in violation of International Law. This part of the public, too, has the right to have a watchdog to watch and warn them about products coming from settlements. We ask the Supreme Court to remove the gag which this law tried to place on this watchdog."

Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson 054-2340749
Attorney Gaby Lasky  054-4418988

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