Tel Aviv – Israel’s top court ruled on Tuesday that the director of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) local branch must leave the country within 20 days, rejecting an appeal filed by the group against his deportation.
Israel’s Supreme Court found that Omar Shakir, a U.S. citizen, who heads the HRW office in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, listing several statements that he had made on Twitter.
The BDS movement promotes economic pressure on Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.
Israel had ordered Shakir’s deportation a year ago, citing his activism and that he had supported boycotts against Israel.
The decision was condemned by the EU and other rights groups.
HRW has said neither Shakir nor the NGO supports boycotts of Israel.
After the court decision, Shakir wrote that if the Israeli government does decide to follow through on deporting him, “it’ll join the ranks of Iran, North Korea and Egypt in blocking access for HRW officials.”
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.
“Let everyone, who acts against the state of Israel know that we will not allow them to live or work here,” Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said after the court decision.