EU Joins Call for Israel to Stop Deportation of Human Rights Watch Director

Two weeks ago, the Jerusalem District Court denied a petition by Omar Shakir that sought to halt his deportation. His permit was withdrawn over claims that the activist supports the boycott of Israel

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Omar Shakir at the Jerusalem District Court, June 27, 2018.
Omar Shakir at the Jerusalem District Court, June 27, 2018.Credit: Emil Salman
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

The European Union called on Israel Tuesday not to deport Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, after Israel revoked his work permit due to his involvement in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

During a meeting of the UN Security Council the Finnish representative, Kai Sauer, said on behalf of the EU, "We are concerned that, within the current political landscape, those on all sides who seek to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians are undermined."

"In this regard, we urge Israel to allow Mr. Shakir and Human Rights Watch to continue their human rights advocacy work unimpeded," he said.

Omar Shakir talks about threat of deportation from IsraelCredit: Haaretz

The EU commended the work of NGOs and human rights activists to "contribute to finding common ground and to working towards the achievement of the two-state solution."

Two weeks ago, the Jerusalem District Court denied a petition by Shakir that sought to halt his deportation. His permit was withdrawn over claims that the activist supports the boycott of Israel.

UN experts in the fields of human rights and freedom of expression criticized Israel for revoking Shakir's work permit Thursday. A statement released by the UN human rights commissioner's office on Thursday called the decision by Israel a ruling that "threatens advocacy, research and free expression for all and reflects a troubling resistance to open debate."

Shakir, who is a U.S. citizen, had his residency permit revoked by Interior Minister Arye Dery last May for what the minister deemed “his activity against Israel.” Dery made the decision after the Strategic Affairs Ministry issued a directive stating that Shakir “frequently retweets and shares content on BDS against Israel,” a reference to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

According to Shakir, who has a J.D. in law from Stanford University in California, the action against him is part of wider effort by the Israeli government to harass Human Rights Watch and human rights activists in general. An initial decision to deport him was made about six months ago, but he has remained in Israel since then.

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A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that no evidence was found suggesting that Shakir was active in the BDS movement after he assumed his role as Israel/Palestine director of HRW.

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