Israeli Supreme Court Delays Deportation Hearing for HRW Director

Human Rights watch director Omar Shakir. (Photo: via Twitter)

Israel’s Supreme Court has delayed a landmark hearing which would have seen the Regional Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Omar Shakir, deported from Israel over his alleged support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Shakir’s ordeal has been ongoing since May 2018, when Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri issued an order to cancel Shakir’s work permit and deport him on the pretext of “his activity against Israel”.

Under an Israeli law passed in 2017, any foreigner who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” can be prevented from entering the country or obtaining a residency or work visa.

In April this year, the Jerusalem District Court upheld Deri’s deportation order. Shakir has since appealed the decision, prompting it to be passed up to the Supreme Court. Last month, the Supreme Court postponed his deportation while appeal proceedings continued, noting that his case should be heard in the current court year, which is due to end this month. Three Supreme Court Justices were therefore slated to give the final verdict on Shakir’s fate today.

The court’s decision to postpone the hearing has been seen as highly unusual, particularly given the fact that it was previously expedited under pressure from right-wing NGOs. The original court date was set for November, but infamous legal advocacy group Shurat HaDin and the right-wing NGO Monitor demanded the hearing be moved up to secure Shakir’s deportation.

The fresh delay is thought to be the result of increased media attention surrounding the case, after HRW’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth this week accused Israel of mounting a campaign “not only to shut down human rights activity, including by our Israeli partners, but also to deprive Israelis of information about what is happening around them”.

The delay is also thought to be motivated by a desire to avoid negative press coverage during Israel’s election season.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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