For the first time, the Knesset Ethics Committee has decided to bar an MK from traveling abroad on a trip subsidized by an organization that supports the boycott of Israel.
Hadash, the party of MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List), was informed on Tuesday, March 13, by committee chair Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) that the committee had decided to refuse Jabareen’s request to fly abroad for a series of lectures in April to be funded by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). The American Jewish group appears on a Strategic Affairs Ministry list of groups supporting BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
In January, the Knesset House Committee called on the Ethics Committee to consider barring Knesset members from undertaking travel funded by groups on the Strategic Affairs Ministry list. Ethics Committee chair Vaknin confirmed that the members of the committee had asked the Strategic Affairs Ministry for more information on the Jewish Voice for Peace organization. A response provided by far-right Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan noted that JVP “is currently considered one of the leading boycott organizations in the United States, declaring its support for BDS as a non-violent tool that will compel the State of Israel to change its policy and relinquish the occupied territories.”
MK Jabareen told Haaretz: “The committee’s decision constitutes a harsh blow to my freedom of political activity as an elected official. Without funding from the group extending the invitation, I will of course not be able to travel, due to the large travel expense and the round of lectures that is planned. This is activity that is a fundamental and integral part of my role as an opposition Knesset member.”
Jabareen said he is considering challenging the committee’s decision to ban his travel plans by filing a petition to the High Court of Justice that would also challenge the ethics rule that authorized the ban. The rule constitutes “an extreme infringement on Knesset members’ freedom of expression and freedom of political activity,” he said.