Israel’s highest court on Tuesday upheld the deportation of Omar Shakir, a US Citizen and local director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel.
Shakir is being removed under a 2017 law allowing the government to block entry to supporters of Israel boycott movements such as boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Israel used the law in August to block US Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from conducting a visit to Palestine and Jerusalem.
This will be the first time the law has been used to deport someone working in the country legally. Shakir told the Jerusalem Post that the court’s interpretation of the law would “have ramifications not only for human rights advocacy and for human rights groups,” but any other person who needs to be posted in Israel.
HRW has called the government’s attempts to deport Shakir a clear attempt by the country to suppress criticism. While Shakir has claimed to have never called for any form of boycott of Israel while at HRW, the organization has opposed Israeli settlements in the West Bank and has called for companies to stop supporting them.
The court’s ruling read that “Not only was there [from Shakir] systematic support for BDS which continued after he began his work for the organization [HRW], his conduct surrounding FIFA, as well as his repeated calls for boycotting Israeli assets in the region, is based on a sweeping denial of the legitimacy of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.”
Shakir announced the verdict on Twitter, saying that Israel would join the “ranks of Iran, N Korea & Egypt in blocking access for @hrw official.” If the government decides to carry out its efforts, the US citizen will have 20 days to leave Israel and the Palestinian territories or else face deportation.