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September 24, 2019 9:58 am

Supreme Court Delays Decision on Deportation of Human Rights Watch Director

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Omar Shakir is seen at a hearing at the district court in Jerusalem, March 11, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad. – Israel’s Supreme Court decided Tuesday to push off making a decision regarding the deportation of Human Rights Watch’s Israel/Palestine Director Omar Shakir until after Rosh Hashanah, extending a 14-month legal battle centering on whether Shakir is engaged in illegal boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities in Israel.

In a hearing Tuesday, the court appeared to agree with Shakir’s lawyer, who argued that the decision should be postponed until the new government is formed, because new officials could have a different perspective on his client’s case.

Shakir was initially denied a work visa to enter Israel in 2017, due to Israeli concerns that he was engaged in “Palestinian propaganda.” He ultimately received a temporary, one-year permit in April 2017, the same year that Israel passed a law allowing it to deport or bar entry to any foreign national publicly backing or promoting the BDS movement.

The United States, of which Shakir is a citizen, criticized Israel’s visa denial.

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In 2018, Israel’s Interior Ministry rejected Shakir for a work and residency permit, citing his alleged support of a boycott of Israel on social media.

Shakir and Human Rights Watch said Shakir has not promoted a boycott of Israel, and accused Israel of attempting to thwart criticism of its policies through the use of the 2017 law.

HRW criticized an April court decision to uphold the deportation of Shakir as a “new and dangerous interpretation of the law,” due to its equating of Shakir’s promotion of boycotting Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria with promotion of boycotting Israel.

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