Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, will be forced to leave Israel on Thursday as Israel puts into practice a recent amendment to its immigration laws aimed at fighting supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
While the new legislation has already been applied to BDS activists seeking to enter the country, this is the first-time Israel is applying the law against a person already inside.
Lawyers for Shakir are already challenging the order but a request he be allowed to stay in the country pending the court case was turned down last week by the Jerusalem District Court. His legal team have now turned to the Supreme Court.
By his own admission, Shakir was once active in promoting boycotts against Israel but says that since taking up his position with HRW and being granted a work permit by Israel a year ago, he has not engaged in such activities.
Shakir, a U.S. citizen, was initially denied a work permit, but in March 2017, the Interior Ministry relented and granted him a year-long visa. When he applied to renew that visa, however, he was told his status was under review. On May 7, Shakir was notified that the permit had been revoked. He was ordered to leave Israel within 14 days.
“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,” read a statement from the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, which has been tasked with combating the BDS movement.
“It is unacceptable that boycott promoters are allowed visas to stay in Israel, while at the same time attempting to harm the country,” said Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in a statement. “I will do everything in my ability to prevent such individuals from entering or residing in Israel.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Ruth Eglash