Omar Shakir

Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Human Rights Watch activist Omar Shakir to expel him from the country. 

The court cited insufficient evidence to overturn a lower court ruling to renew Shakir’s work visa.  

Shakis, according to the government, allegedly supported the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. 

Legislation in 2017 bars entry anyone publicly supporting a boycott of Israel or its West Bank settlements. 

Shakir’s case has been followed internationally as to how Israel will enforce the legislation.

Human Rights Watch deny they nor Shakir had called for a boycott of Israel noting Shakir, a U.S. citizen, was being targeted for the group’s opposition to Israel’s West Bank settlements.

Shakir tweeted if the government followed through with his deportation, he would leave within 20 days.

Israel has a tough standing towards the BDS movement, which delegitimises Israel’s existence. 

Maurice Hirsch, a lawyer for the NGO Monitor group advocating against Shakir, said it had presented evidence back to 2010 of Shakir publicly supporting BDS. 

Shakir took up his post with Human Rights Watch in 2016.

Hirsch said the ruling was “an important expression of Israeli democracy.”

“The court confirms that, while in Israel, Shakir spent his time unjustifiably vilifying Israel and promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activities,” he explained. “Despite his claims, Shakir’s work had very little, if anything, to do with protecting human rights.”

Shurat HaDin president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner welcomed the court decision.  

“The Supreme Court took for granted that there is no right of entry into the country, and certainly no right to work, nor even the right to petition the Supreme Court at all, for those who work towards harming the State of Israel and striving for its destruction,” she said. 

“Shakir is the one who pushed Airbnb to delist the Jewish homes in the territories and even took pride in having the hosting platform comply with his diktats.”

Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard though criticised the ruling. 

“Israel has today joined nations such as Syria, Iran and North Korea that have already expelled HRW representatives in order to silence criticism of the human rights violations taking place in the (Palestinian) territories,” Sfard wrote on Twitter. 

Tuesday’s decision was delayed for months as Shakir with his defence team made a case against deportation. 

Shakir stayed in Israel throughout proceedings.

By Bella Waxler