Israel supreme court upholds expulsion of HRW official Omar Shakir

Omar Shakir, the local director of Human Rights Watch, works at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP)
Updated 06 November 2019

Israel supreme court upholds expulsion of HRW official Omar Shakir

  • Human Rights Watch says it has criticized Israel’s human rights record but has never advocated a boycott -- and the same is true for Shakir since he joined the organization

JERUSALEM: Israel’s supreme court on Tuesday upheld a government decision to expel a senior Human Rights Watch official over his alleged support of a boycott of the country, the ruling said.
Israel has sought to expel Omar Shakir, director for Israel and the Palestinian territories for the New York-based rights group, for more than a year.
It will now be up to the government whether to follow through and deport Shakir, a US citizen, who brands the move a bid by Israel to silence and delegitimize critics of its treatment of the Palestinians.
“If it proceeds, I have 20 days to leave & it’ll join ranks of Iran, N Korea & Egypt in blocking access for @hrw official,” Shakir tweeted after the decision was announced, referring to Israel.
It would be the first expulsion of its kind under a 2017 law allowing the deportation of foreigners who support boycotting Israel, though there have been cases of people being denied entry under the measure.
“I am delighted that the supreme court this morning has validated my decision to not extend the visa of Omar Shakir, one of the leaders of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, for his support for boycotting Israel,” said Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.
“All those who work against Israel must know that we will not let them live or work here,” he added.
The case against Shakir was initially based on alleged statements in support of a boycott he made prior to taking up his post, HRW says.
The government later added new statements it alleges are in support of a boycott.
Human Rights Watch says it has criticized Israel’s human rights record but has never advocated a boycott -- and the same is true for Shakir since he joined the organization.
Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which probes potential violations of the 2017 law, alleges Shakir’s activism, particularly related to the country’s occupation of the West Bank, has amounted to calls for a boycott.
The BDS movement calls for a boycott of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.
Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim activists strongly deny.


Algeria to ease coronavirus restrictions on Sunday

Updated 57 min 17 sec ago

Algeria to ease coronavirus restrictions on Sunday

  • The North African country has so far reported 9,831 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 681 deaths

ALGIERS: Algeria will resume some economic activities and allow a number of businesses to reopen from Sunday as part of a plan to end the coronavirus lockdown, the prime minister's office said on Thursday.
It said the government would allow the construction and public works sector to resume activity to help ease the impact of the coronavirus-linked restrictions imposed in March.
The government will also permit the reopening of businesses such as home appliances, vegetable and fruit markets, pastries and men's barbershops.
The second stage of the lockdown relaxation will start on June 14, allowing more businesses to resume, the government said, without giving details.
“The success of the plan to resume economic activity remains dependent on the ability of merchants and operators to ensure the safety of their employees and customers,” the prime minister's office said.
The North African country has so far reported 9,831 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 681 deaths.