Israel's top court upholds deportation of Human Rights Watch official

by Reuters
Tuesday, 5 November 2019 10:02 GMT

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JERUSALEM, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a government decision not to renew the work visa of a Human Rights Watch official and he will have to leave the country within 20 days or face deportation, his lawyer said.

The unanimous three-judge decision supporting the Israeli government's move against Omar Shakir, a U.S. citizen who represents HRW in Israel and the Palestinian territories, was published on the court's website.

Shakir had contested the government's argument that his past pro-Palestinian statements constituted current backing for anti-Israel boycotts.

Israel says that Shakir supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Israel has criminalised BDS and has lobbied Western powers to follow suit.

A lawyer for Shakir said the ruling meant that his client "would need to leave within 20 days" or face deportation. There was no immediate comment from Shakir or the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) organisation.

In the run-up to the court decision, HRW said Israel's moves against Shakir showed that it was seeking to suppress criticism of its human rights record. (Reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alex Richardson)

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