Israel Rejects Human Rights Watch Director's Request to Delay Expulsion

Omar Shakir is slated to leave Israel on November 25. Meanwhile, Shakir has filed a request for another hearing from Israel's Supreme Court

Omar Shakir, the local director of Human Rights Watch, works at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 5, 2019.
Nasser Nasser,AP

Israel has rejected the request by Omar Shakir, the Human Rights Watch representative in Israel and Palestine, to delay his expulsion from Israel on the grounds of his support for the boycott against Israel, and is expected to leave on November 25.

Shakir filed a request for another hearing from Israel's Supreme Court about his pending expulsion. The Supreme Court upheld his expulsion in an appeal earlier this month.

Shakir requested another hearing from an expanded panel of judges on whether the "boycott of Israel," as defined by Israeli law, includes the call to avoid business dealings "on account of its alleged part in violating human rights (and on no other basis)."

The expulsion of boycott supporters, the request said, "is an earthquake for everything that relates to the ability of human rights organizations and advocates to do their work in Israel and the occupied territories in connection to the Israel-Palestinian conflict."

The request added that the barring of pro-BDS elements from Israel "has dramatic consequences for Israel's foreign relations, freedom of political expression of Israeli and foreign human rights groups and political equality."

Two weeks ago, Supreme Court 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 Arye Dery did not err in deciding not to renew the activist's residency. They gave him 20 days to leave the country. 

Shakir had said the decision to expel him was politically motivated and part of an attempt to silence human rights organizations working in Israel, but Hendel wrote in the ruling that Dery's decision "concerns only the employment of Shakir himself – and it is based on his systematic, prolonged, qualitative and wide-ranging activity to promote the boycott strategy." However, Hendel added, "Human Rights Watch is not classified as a boycott organization – and it can request the employment of another representative who is not involved up to his neck in BDS activity."