The European Union (EU) called on Israel to reverse its expulsion order for a Human Rights Watch (HRW) staffer, over the employee’s alleged support for boycotts of Israel.
Earlier this month, Israel’s Interior Ministry revoked the work permit of Omar Shakir, a U.S. citizen, who heads the HRW office in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, saying that he promotes boycotts of Israel.
Shakir is supposed to the leave the country by Thursday.
HRW is fighting the order in court and has asked Israel’s Supreme Court to allow Shakir to stay in Israel during the legal proceedings.
“The EU 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,” EU spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.
According to HRW it is the first time that an HRW employee has been ordered to leave since the organisation started working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories 30 years ago.
Under Israeli law, the Interior Ministry is permitted to refuse visas to people, who advocate boycotts against Israel, including Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
A government dossier on Shakir, provided to dpa by HRW, cites statements attributed to Shakir in support of boycott efforts and his involvement in a pro-Palestinian student group.
The dossier also cites HRW’s lobbying of FIFA not to allow matches to be held in Israeli settlements and its advocacy that companies not do business in the West Bank.