Israel’s Supreme Court rules HRW Director can be deported over BDS

Israel’s Supreme Court rules HRW Director can be deported over BDS

Human Rights Watch is weighing an appeal to a larger judicial panel of the verdict by a three judges. If not appeal is lodged, Shakir could be asked to leave the country within 20-day.

In a landmark anti-BDS ruling the High Court of Justice has paved the way for Israel to deport Human Rights Watch’s local director Omar Shakir for his support of boycott activity against Israel.

Human Rights Watch is weighing an appeal to a larger judicial panel of the verdict by a three judges. If not appeal is lodged, Shakir could be asked to leave the country within 20-day.

The ruling is a victory for those who hold that advocates of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement are acting against the state and are not engaged in legitimate criticism of Israel. Opponents view it as part of a movement to suppress human rights advocacy in Israel.

Shakir, who is a US citizen, immediately tweeted that if the HCJ decision is upheld, Israel will “join ranks of Iran, N Korea & Egypt in blocking access for @hrw official. We wont stop. And we wont be the last.”

Minister for Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan [Likud] expressed his satisfaction over the verdict.

"I applaud the decision of the Supreme Court that accepted my Ministry and the Interior Minister's position that a work visa should not be given to a foreign boycott activist who wants to harm Israel and its citizens," he said in a statement.

"Omar Shakir is a BDS activist who took advantage of his stay in Israel to harm it, something no sane country would allow. Israel sees great importance in the activities of real human rights organizations, granting hundreds of visas every year to human rights activists. HRW is welcome to appoint another representative in Israel in place of Shakir if it chooses to do so," he added.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Erdan had argued that to the court that in accordance with the amendment to the Entry into Israel Law, Shakir's stay in Israel should not be approved in light of his activities.

Shakir, a U.S. citizen, had contested the government's argument that his past pro-Palestinian statements constituted current backing for anti-Israel boycotts.

In June, the Court froze a deportation order issued by a lower court in April. But on Tuesday it said the deportation could proceed.

"Not only was there [from Shakir] systematic support for  BDS which continued after he began his work for the organization [HRW], his conduct surrounding FIFA, as well as his repeated calls for boycotting Israeli assets in the region, is based on a sweeping denial of the legitimacy of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria," the Court's ruling read.

"In these circumstances, there is no reason to intervene in the previous ruling. This is a case in which is a boycott was promoted only because of an affinity for the area [Israel] ─ as opposed to its conduct. Therefore, the Minister's decision does not go beyond the limits of his authority," it added.

NGO Monitor lawyer Maurice Hirsch, whose organization has backed the ministries in the process, said the verdict was an “important expression of Israeli democracy. The Court confirms that while in Israel, Shakir spent his time unjustifiably vilifying Israel and promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities. Despite his claims, Shakir's work had very little, if anything, to do with protecting human rights.”

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