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Israel's top court approves deportation of HRW director Omar Shakir over BDS support Open in fullscreen

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Israel's top court approves deportation of HRW director Omar Shakir over BDS support

Israel has sought to expel Omar Shakir for more than a year. [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 November, 2019

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Shakir's case has been followed closely internationally as a litmus test for how Israel would enforce controversial legislation allowing the deportation of foreigners who support the boycott of Israel.

Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled to uphold a government decision to deport Human Rights Watch's (HRW) Country Director Omar Shakir.

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 delegitimise critics of its treatment of the Palestinians.

Israel has sought to expel Shakir for more than a year.

"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.

Shakir's case has been followed closely internationally as a litmus test for how Israel would enforce the controversial legislation.

Read more: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel: What is BDS and why should you care?

The case against him 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 criticised Israel's human rights record but has never advocated a boycott - and the same is true for Shakir since he joined the organisation.

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.

Human Rights Watch says Shakir is being targeted for the rights group's opposition to Israel's West Bank Jewish settlements and its calls for companies to stop working with the settlements.

Israel has adopted a tough stance in recent years toward the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which it says is aimed at delegitimizing Israel's existence and wiping it off the map.

The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking to put an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism - a claim activists strongly deny.

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