Israel’s Top Court Hears Appeal Against Deportation of Human Rights Watch Director

Israel's Supreme Court will discuss Tuesday morning the appeal against the deportation of Human Rights Watch representative in Israel and Palestine, Omar Shakir, who is accused by the state of supporting the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement.

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The discussion was postponed in July to give the state time to prepare for the addition of Amnesty International and a group of former Israeli ambassadors as amici curiae (friends of the court), after right-wing non-profit organizations also joined the request for his deportation in the same capacity.

>> Read more: UN experts urge Israel to halt deportation of Human Rights Watch director ■ Expulsion of human rights watch director would be big show of Israeli hypocrisy | Opinion 

The proceeding is expected to take place before justices Neal Hendel, Noam Sohlberg and Yael Vilner. Shakir, represented by attorneys Michael Sfard and Emily Shefer Omer-Man, is expected to argue that the decision to deport him is political, and an attempt to silence human rights organizations operating in the country. Shakir is also expected to request that the state activate a law that enables the Foreign Ministry, in certain cases, to prevent the deportation of BDS activists or the refusal to allow them to enter the country – if doing so could harm Israel’s foreign relations. For example, that is what Israel planned to do in the case of U.S. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, before U.S. President Donald Trump intervened in the case.

In April, the Jerusalem District Court approved the government decision to cancel the work and residency visa of Shakir, a U.S. citizen, claiming that in the past he expressed support for the BDS movement. In May of last year Interior Minister Arye Dery cancelled his visa for what he described as Shakir’s anti-Israel activity. This was done on the instructions of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which said that Shakir often shares anti-Israel BDS content on social media. Shakir then appealed to the Supreme Court.