The Israeli government is taking preparatory steps to expel prominent Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
According to a report in the Times of Israel, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced yesterday that he has directed the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare a legal opinion to be used in the deportation of Barghouti.
Barghouti has permanent residency through marriage to a Palestinian citizen of Israel.
"I intend to act quickly to deprive Omar Barghouti of residency status in Israel," Deri declared. "This is a man who does everything to harm the country and therefore must not enjoy the right to be a resident of Israel."
According to the report, the move is based on a 2018 amendment to Israeli legislation, "that makes breach of trust a crime significant enough to allow the interior minister to strip an individual of his or her residency status," and "boycotting Israel could constitute such an offense."
The Interior Ministry noted that deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber has indicated that the minister has "the authority to revoke the BDS founder's residency status".
Barghouti has already been targeted by Israeli authorities with travel bans in recent years, as well as other forms of political and legal harassment.
The BDS movement was launched in 2005, urging international civil society and governments to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of Palestinian rights and international law.
Joint List chair MK Ayman Odeh slammed Deri's statement yesterday: "I have only one thing to say to Minister Deri: We did not come to the State of Israel. The State of Israel came to us. Who are you to deny the residency of this native or any other citizen?"
"Denial of residency or citizenship is an anti-democratic act. Today it is Barghouti, tomorrow it is anyone else who disagrees with the Israeli government, its policy of occupation and Jewish supremacy laws. We will defend our rights by whatever means available to us," added Odeh.