EU Calls on Israel to Reverse Decision to Deport Human Rights Watch Director

"The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association," read the statement

Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director, looks on before his hearing at Israel's Supreme Court in Jerusalem September 24, 2019.
AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

The European Union called on the Israeli government Monday to reverse its decision on revoking the work visa of Omar Shakir, the Human Rights Watch representative in Israel and Palestine, accused by the state of supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

"The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association and calls on the Israeli Government to reverse its decision on revoking the work visa of Omar Shakir," read the statement by the EU spokesperson.

Earlier on Tuesday, The Supreme Court upheld Shakir's expulsion. Justices Neal Hendel, Noam Sohlberg, and Yael Willner rejected Shakir's and Human Rights Watch's appeal against the expulsion, ruling that the interior minister did not err in deciding not to renew the activist's residency. He was given 20 days to leave the country.

Shakir said that the decision to expel him was politically motivated and part of an attempt to silence human rights organizations working in Israel. He asked the government to halt his expulsion on the basis of the law allowing the Foreign Ministry to block moves against pro-boycott activists if there are grounds to believe such actions would damage Israel's foreign relations.

In May of last year Interior Minister Arye Dery cancelled his visa for what he described as Shakir’s anti-Israel activity. This was done on the instructions of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which said that Shakir often shares anti-Israel BDS content on social media. Shakir then appealed to the Supreme Court.

HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth told Haaretz in July that if Israel does deport their representative in Israel and the territories it “will join countries like South Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan and Iran, which have deported our representatives. It’s not a club that Israel should be enthusiastic about joining."