A British-Palestinian academic from the University of Birmingham has been banned from entering Israel last weekend.
The ban prevented Professor Kamel Hawwash from visiting family in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and is thought to have been instated because of activism as part of Israel’s controversial “BDS ban” law.
Hawwash has chaired the British Palestine Twinning Network, the Midlands Community Association and served as Vice Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign for eight years.
The ban is the first time Hawwash has been detained or denied entry despite regular visits to Israel and Palestine however was told on this occasion that his deportation was due to new foreign boycott law.
I am personally devastated at my denial of entry. Firstly, because I could not be with my wife and son for our holiday, but also because I have been denied entry to my homeland. I have elderly relatives that I will never see again if I am not allowed to enter in the future. I had to leave my wife and son alone in the airport in tears.
The Israeli Knesset recently passed a law to ban the entry of foreigners who advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), was the first activist to be deported under the new law last month and Israeli authorities also prevented the Chilean head of the Palestinian Federation of Chile, Anwar Makhlouf, from entering the country earlier this week.
Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield said:
My constituent Kamel Hawwash is being denied entry not only to Israel, but to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and access to his family – it is utterly shocking that now he may never see them again. The relaxed attitude our ministers are showing to Israel’s actions is scandalous. Human rights defenders in Israel have rightly spoken out against this new law preventing peaceful campaigners from visiting their country. It is time for British ministers to speak out too.
PSC Director Ben Jamal added:
According to the Israeli government, human rights activism is a security threat. Fundamental democratic norms and freedoms don’t matter. The British government must demand that Israel ceases this harassment.