Israel accused of ‘witch hunt’ over visa ban

Human Rights Watch's Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, sits at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 9, 2018. (AFP / ABBAS MOMANI)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Israel accused of ‘witch hunt’ over visa ban

  • Human Rights Watch country director Omar Shakir was issued with a deportation notice by Israel earlier this month after his work visa was revoked.
  • A dossier compiled against Shakir by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy said he “has actively and consistently supported strategies calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel since his early days as a student.”

AMMAN: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has launched a legal bid to prevent the Israeli government deporting its country director over claims that he expressed support for a boycott of the Jewish state.

Omar Shakir, a US citizen and graduate of Stanford University in California, had his work permit revoked this month despite denying the allegations. 

HRW and Shakir submitted a 145-point, 29-page petition to the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday, accusing Israel of conducting a “witch hunt” aimed at silencing its critics.

Shakir said the legal action will challenge a controversial Israeli law introduced last year to prevent activists who support an international cultural and economic boycott from entering the country.

“This is a draconian law aimed at muzzling any human rights professional whose work opposes the policies of the state of Israel,” Shakir said.

The law sought to punish individuals for expressing political opinions even before applying for a work permit, he added.

HRW is based in the US and has about 400 staff around the world.

In a statement released after the deportation notice was served early this month, the group republished a dossier it said had been compiled against Shakir by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy.

Noting that he is “an American citizen of Iraqi origin,” the dossier said Shakir “has actively and consistently supported strategies calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel since his early days as a student.”

The document recommended Shakir “be stripped of his work visa and denied re-entry into the country.”

On May 7, the Israeli government issued HRW with a notice ordering Shakir to leave within 14 days. However, the petition to the Jerusalem court yesterday claimed the deportation order was part of an “Orwellian scenario” and a “witch hunt.”

“The decision is tainted by grievous bad faith” based on previous attempts to stop HRW working in Israel and the occupied territories, the petition said.


Saudi crown prince signs raft of cooperation agreements with China

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signs an agreement between the Kingdom and China in Beijing on Friday. (SPA)
Updated 37 min 1 sec ago
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Saudi crown prince signs raft of cooperation agreements with China

  • the crown prince headed the Saudi delegation at the third session of the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee

BEIJING: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday met with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to discuss ways of further developing relations between the Kingdom and China.

The meeting took place in the grand surroundings of the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital Beijing. After their talks, the crown prince headed the Saudi delegation at the third session of the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee which he co-chaired with Zheng.

Delegates at the meeting discussed moves to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on trade, investment, energy, culture and technology, as well as the coordination of political and security matters. The committee also reviewed plans for greater integration between China’s Belt and Road development strategy and the Saudi Vision 2030 reform program.

After agreeing on the minutes of the meeting, the Saudi royal and Zheng took part in the signing of a range of agreements, memorandums of understanding (MoU), investment projects and bilateral cooperation accords between the Kingdom and China:

The cooperation agreement in maritime transport between the Chinese and Saudi governments, signed by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qassabi and Chinese Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng.

MoU between the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and the National Development and Reform Commission in China, signed by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

MoU between the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment to form a working group to facilitate trade, signed by Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi, the Kingdom’s deputy minister of commerce and investment, and Qian Keming, Chinese vice minister of commerce.

Loan agreement between the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the Chinese Ministry of Finance to build and equip three hospitals in Yanbian city in Jilin Province, signed by Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir and the Chinese deputy finance minister.

Rehabilitation

Loan agreement between the SFD and Chinese Ministry of Finance to reconstruct and rehabilitate areas affected by earthquakes in Sichuan Province, signed by Al-Jubeir and the Chinese deputy finance minister.

Agreement between the Saudi Ministry of Interior and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security to cooperate in fighting cybercrime, signed Nasser Al-Dawood, undersecretary of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, and China’s deputy minister for public security.

MoU between the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia and China’s National Committee for energy to invest in renewable energy, signed by PIF head Yasir Al-Rumayyan, and the committee’s vice chairman.

Minutes of the meeting about cooperating in combating terrorism between the Saudi Presidency of State Security and Chinese Ministry of Public Security, signed by Lt. Gen. Abdullah Al-Qarni, deputy director-general of General Investigation for the Kingdom, and the Chinese minister.

MoU between the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property and the Chinese National Committee for Intellectual Property Rights, signed by Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Swailem, the authority’s executive chairman, and committee chairman Xin Xiangyu.

MoU to participate in investing in renewable energy projects, signed by the chairman of ACWA Power, Mohammed Abunayyan, and president of the Silk Road Fund, Wang Yanzhi.

Cooperation agreement for Saudi Aramco to acquire 9 percent of Chinese project Zhejiang Petrochemical, signed by Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser and Xung Wi, mayor of Zhushan.

Agreement between Saudi Aramco with NORINCO Group and Panjin Sincen to develop a fully integrated refining and petrochemical complex, located in the city of Panjin in China’s Liaoning province, signed by Nasser and Tang Yijun, governor of Liaoning province and chairman of NORINCO.