Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Israel court halts immediate expulsion of Human Rights Watch head

Ruth Eglash (The Washington Post), Stars and Stripes

Image from article, with caption: Human Rights Watch's Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir

JERUSALEM — An Israeli court issued an interim injunction on Wednesday temporarily preventing Israel's Interior Ministry from deporting Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

Shakir, a U.S. citizen, had his work permit revoked earlier this month based on a recent amendment to the country's immigration laws aimed at fighting supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

This is the first time that Israel is applying the law against a person already inside the country; in previous instances, BDS activists seeking to enter the country have been blocked. If Shakir is expelled, critics say, it places Israel in a highly undesirable group of nations that have banned human rights activists.

Attorneys for Shakir have challenged the ministry's decision in a legal petition and requested that he be allowed to stay in the country pending the court case. That request was initially turned down by the Jerusalem District Court but on Wednesday the same court reversed the decision, allowing him to remain. ...

"After a thorough investigation, it was found that in recent years, Mr. Shakir has worked consistently, prominently, and continuously to promote boycotts against the State of Israel and international companies investing in Israel," said a statement from the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis], which has been tasked with combating the BDS movement. ...

Gilad Erdan, minister for strategic affairs and public diplomacy, said: "Even when they attempt to hide their promotion of anti-Israel boycotts by appropriating the language of human rights, we will reveal their hypocrisy and moral double standards and hold them accountable for their actions." ...

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