Israeli court suspends deportation for rights worker




Tel Aviv –   An Israeli court on Wednesday froze a deportation order for a Human Rights Watch (HRW) staffer in a case that has spurned condemnation from the EU and other rights groups.

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Earlier this month, Israel’s Interior Ministry revoked the work permit of Omar Shakir, a U.S. citizen, who heads the HRW office in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, saying that he promotes boycotts of Israel.
HRW says that neither Shakir nor the NGO support boycotts of Israel.

Shakir’s attorney Michael Sfard confirmed on Wednesday that the Jerusalem District Court issued an interim injunction allowing Shakir to stay in the country as HRW appeals the government decision.
Shakir was supposed to the leave the country by Thursday.

On Tuesday, EU spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic, called on Israel to reverse the decision, saying Israel would “join a very short list of countries which have barred entry to, or expelled, Human Rights Watch staff.”

According to HRW, it is the first time that one of its employees has been ordered to leave since the organisation started working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories 30 years ago.

Under Israeli law, the interior ministry is permitted to refuse visas to people, who advocate boycotts against Israel, including Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

A government dossier on Shakir cites statements attributed to Shakir prior to his join the NGO in support of boycott efforts and his involvement in a pro-Palestinian student group.

The dossier also cites HRW’s lobbying of FIFA not to allow matches to be held in Israeli settlements. (dpa/NAN)

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