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Israeli authorities ‘impose effective travel ban’ on BDS co-founder

May 10, 2016 at 9:53 am

Israeli authorities have refused to renew the travel document of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement co-founder Omar Barghouti, in a move condemned by campaigners as amounting to a “travel ban”, and an “escalation” of attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders.

Barghouti has Israeli permanent residency and requires an Israeli travel document to be able to travel abroad. He currently lives with his family in Acre.

According to a press release published Tuesday by the Palestinian-led BDS Movement, the refusal to renew the travel document is seen as a possible first step towards revoking Barghouti’s permanent residency.

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri recently threatened to do precisely that, in remarks delivered at an anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem. At the same gathering, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders.

Following these and other recent developments, Amnesty International expressed its concern for Omar Barghouti, and defended the right of Palestinians to pursue “campaigns to hold Israel accountable for human rights and other international law violations.”

Barghouti said he was “unnerved but certainly undeterred” by the refusal to renew his travel document.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), accused Israel of “launching a desperate and dangerous global war of repression on the movement”, and highlighted “anti-democratic measures” in western states targeting the BDS campaign.

According to Nawajaa, “the western governments that are repressing BDS activism at home are giving Israel a green light to continue its violations of international law with impunity. We urge governments, parliaments and human rights organisations to follow Amnesty International’s lead and uphold his rights as a human rights defender under threat.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Technion university in Haifa warned this week that “the academic boycott of Israeli universities has begun to metastasize outside the US and the UK.”

Prof. Peretz Lavie, who is also chair of the Association of University Heads in Israel, was speaking in response to a recent vote by the University of Chile’s Law Faculty student body to back BDS.

Lavie urged the government to do more to “halt” the growing global BDS campaign, saying: “The full mobilization on the part of the state is required, so that together we can provide a real counterweight against BDS and the other active organizations.”