This is the first application of the 2017 amendment to Israel’s entry law in which a foreign national already living and working in Israel has had their work permit revoked for alleged support for BDS.
Human Rights Watch and its Israel and Palestine director, U.S. citizen Omar Shakir, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Israeli government following the Interior Ministry’s decision to revoke Shakir’s work permit and expel him from the country for his alleged support for a boycott of Israel.
The lawsuit against the deportation order is the first legal challenge of the use of Israel’s “boycott travel ban,” which is a 2017 amendment to the Prevention of Entry into Israel Law, authorizing the interior minister to withhold temporary visas or residency to any non-Israeli citizen who has publicly called for or pledged to participate in a boycott of Israel. HRW is being represented by Israeli human rights attorneys Michael Sfard, Sophia Brodsky and Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man. Shakir is supposed to leave the country by Monday May 21, pending the suit’s outcome.
UPDATE: On Thursday a Jerusalem District Court judge rejected Shakir’s request to remain in Israel until the end of the proceedings, instead ordering him to leave the country by May 24.
This is first case of its kind in which a foreign national already living and working in Israel with an existing visa has had their work permit – and thus visa – revoked for alleged support of boycott. There have been cases in the past, including recently, of foreign nationals being denied entry to Israel upon their arrival to Ben-Gurion Airport. Last year, Israel denied entry to Amnesty International staffer Raed Jarrar. And there was an incident a few years ago when Dutch journalist Derk Walters was forced to leave the country because his GPO credentials were not renewed for tweeting articles critical of Israeli policies. But kicking someone out who already lives and works in Israel is unprecedented.
Asked about the petition, Israel’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) spokesperson Sabine Haddad replied, “We will respond in court.”
The lawsuit’s main argument is that this is Israel’s way of muzzling dissent. “The motivation for the decision to remove the Petitioner is not his alleged past support of boycotts, but the drive to prevent an institution that is critical of the policies of the Government of Israel from carrying out research activities here and in the Occupied Territories.”
The lawsuit also claims that the deportation order goes beyond the authority of the law, since the law does not allow for revoking visas...Read More