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Israel refuses to extend visa for Dutch journalist critical of occupation

Image of Dutch journalist Derk Walters [NRC/YouTube]
Image of Dutch journalist Derk Walters [NRC/YouTube]

Israel has refused to extend a work visa for Dutch journalist Derk Walters because his writing is critical of Israeli violations.

The Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) called for Walters to leave the country because he was staying illegally as his visa had expired. Walters is the main correspondent of the NRC Handelsblad daily working in Israel and the occupied West Bank since 2014.

According to the a Palestinian news website, Arabs 48, the Israeli daily Haaretz revealed that Walters applied for the renewal several times, but he was refused because of his journalistic work.

In January 2016, Walters published a report about Hebron in which he said: “The Palestinians believe that there is full cooperation between the Israeli army and the settlers. They also believe that the army does not try to undermine stabbing attacks, but it kills Palestinians and plants knives on the scene of the crimes.”

Read: 13 Palestinian journalists injured while attempting to cover Jerusalem sit-in

One month later, Walters criticised the Israeli law which criminalises activists who call for boycotting Israel. He wrote on his Twitter that boycotting is a legal resistance against Israel, but Palestinians and Israelis calling for it may be put on trial.

Peter Vandermeersch, editor-in-chief of the Dutch daily, published an article on Tuesday, stating that the GPO intended to end Walters’ critical reporting of the Israeli government and Israeli forces.

He insisted that the refusal to extend a work visa to Walters is “an attempt by Israel to prevent free and critical coverage over that country.”

At the end of 2016, the Israeli authorities refused to renew Walters’ visa and in February 2017, the GPO sent him an email, telling him that he is working illegally in Israel.

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