Thursday, January 28, 2021

Israeli government moves to deport BDS founder Omar Barghouti

By Yehudit Tzfat - October 12, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [BDS]

The Israeli government has taken the first steps toward deporting Omar Barghouti, a prominent activist and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Sunday that he asked the Population and Immigration Authority to craft a legal opinion to use in expelling Barghouti from the country.

Barghouti gained permanent residency status after marrying a Palestinian citizen of Israel in 1993.

“I intend to act quickly to deprive Omar Barghouti of residency status in Israel,” Deri said in a statement. “This is a man who does everything to harm the country and therefore must not enjoy the right to be a resident of Israel.” 

The decision to move forward with Barghouti’s possible deportation is due to a 2018 amendment to Israeli residency laws indicating a breach of trust could be a considered a severe enough crime to remove an individual’s residency status. Boycotting Israel could qualify as a breach of trust. 

The Interior Ministry said that Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber informed the office that it has the power to strip Barghouti of his residency. 

Joint List chair Ayman Odeh harshly condemned the Israeli government’s move in a statement:

“We [Arab Israelis] did not come to the State of Israel. The State of Israel came to us. Who are you to deny the residency of this native or any other citizen?”

“Denial of residency or citizenship is an anti-democratic act,” Odeh continued. “Today it is Barghouti, tomorrow it is anyone else who disagrees with the Israeli government, its policy of occupation and Jewish supremacy laws. We will defend our rights by whatever means available to us.”

This is not the first time Barghouti has experienced threats of deportation.

In 2016, MK request the Interior Ministry revoke Barghouti’s residency. Two months after the attempt, his travel document was not renewed by the immigration authority.

His movements were restricted for a year until an Israeli court ruled Barghouti’s travel document should be renewed. 

In April of this year, Barghouti was denied a visa to enter the United States. His supporters claim he was also denied a visa to attend the Labour party conference in the United Kingdom. However, the UK Home Office said he wasn’t denied a visa, but rather applied too late. 

The BDS movement was founded in 2005 and is defined as a “Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality.” The campaign seeks to use non-violent pressure on Israel to comply with international law by encouraging companies, institutions and governments to isolate the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

Many Israeli politicians classify BDS as anti-Semitic, but the organisation’s website says it opposes all forms of discrimination — including anti-Semitism.

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