Israel Rejects EU Calls to Reinstate Visa for Human Rights Watch Head

BRUSSELS (Reuters/Hamodia) -

The European Union on Tuesday called on Israel to reinstate the visa of Omar Shakir, the representative of Human Rights Watch in the country, which was withdrawn after Israel accused him of supporting a boycott against it.

Israel withdrew Shakir’s visa early this month.

“The European Union expects the Israeli authorities to reverse their decision, as otherwise Israel would join a very short list of countries which have barred entry to, or expelled, Human Rights Watch staff,” the European Union said.

In response, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said: “I advise the E.U. not to interfere in Israel’s internal affairs,” adding that E.U. policy on Israel is “full of hypocrisy,” an attempt to “blacken Israel’s name,” and is doomed to failure.

“It is unacceptable that boycott promoters are allowed visas to stay in Israel while at the same time causing harm to the country,” Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said in a statement on May 8.

“I will do everything in my ability to prevent such individuals from entering or residing in Israel, and therefore Mr. Shakir has been refused permission to continue to work in the country,” he said.

The Yerushalayim District Court last week turned down a HRW appeal against the order, and Shakir will be deported on Thursday, unless the Israeli High Court intervenes.