West Bank, ALRAY -- An Israeli court on Tuesday upheld the deportation of the country's Human Rights Watch director for allegedly supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, HRW said in a statement.
In a statement on Tuesday, April 16th, Israel’s Justice Ministry said Omar Shakir had lost his appeal. Shakir stood accused of promoting pro-Palestinian boycotts against Israel.
The director began contesting the decision to revoke his work permit last year. In support of Shakir, a New York-based watchdog suggested the case was a bid to suppress global criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Israel claimed that Shakir, who is a US citizen, supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Israel has criminalised BDS and has lobbied Western powers to follow suit.
Human Right Watch described the ruling as "a new and dangerous interpretation of the law". The group added that it would be launching an appeal to Israel's Supreme Court, seeking an injunction that would allow Shakir to remain in Israel until any appeal was heard.
In its ruling, the Jerusalem District Court said Shakir had supported the boycott of Israel and of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Shakir was provided with time until May 1st to leave Israel.
"The appellant continues to call publicly for a boycott of Israel, or parts of it, while at the same time asking (Israel) to open its doors to him," said the ruling.
In response to the court’s findings, Human Rights Watch disputed the claim. The group stated that neither it, nor Shakir operating as its representative, had promoted boycotts of Israel.
"The decision sends the chilling message that those who criticise the involvement of businesses in serious abuses in Israeli settlements risk being barred from Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank," said Tom Porteous, deputy programme director at Human Rights Watch.
According to Reuters, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan welcomed the court's decision. "We will not allow the promotion of boycotts under the disguise of 'human rights activists' as Shakir did," Erdan said on Twitter.
Amnesty International in condmened the decision in a tweet:"Yesterday an Israeli court upheld an order to deport HRW's Omar Shakir for his human rights work in Israel & the Occupied Palestinian Territories,"and added: "The State of Israel's message has become clear: Human rights work has no place here. If you try to expose, we will expel you."