Israeli groups slam plan to expel Human Rights Watch rep

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HRW has said neither it nor Shakir supports boycotts and that it would challenge the decision in an Israeli court.

The charge that Shakir supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, they contend, is entirely spurious and pure pretext.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who recommended revoking Shakir's visa, said his office "reveals the true face of boycott activists".

After being refused entry into Israel last year, after which the nation granted him a one-year work visa, Omar Shakir, an organizer with Human Rights Watch, tweeted out to his followers that the Israeli government is now deporting him over the allegations. "Compiling dossiers on and deporting human rights defenders is a page out of the Russian or Egyptian security services' playbook".

Israel's decision to deport a Human Rights Watch official, and the growing list of people to whom it denies entry for criticizing of the occupation, place Israel squarely on a list of disreputable states.

Human Rights Watch said the Israeli authorities had revoked Omar Shakir's work permit on the basis of his alleged support for boycotts of Israel and gave him 14 days to leave the country.

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The interior ministry said Tuesday it had terminated the residency permit of Omar Shakir, a United States citizen, over accusations that he supports a boycott of Israel.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, 15 Israeli human rights groups condemned Israel's decision to expel Shakir.

Human Rights Watch applied in January 2018 to extend Shakir's work visa, which was due to expire on March 31. Neither closing the borders to human rights groups and activists nor other Israeli measures against organizations critical of the occupation will deter us - or them - from reporting human rights violations in areas under Israeli control.

Iain Levine from Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday the move was an attempt to "muzzle" the non-governmental organisation.

In an ideal world, both Human Rights Watch and the Israeli government would be more concerned with human rights and less with scoring partisan political points from their most extreme supporters. An investigative report by Ben Birnbaum-whose work on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would later receive the National Press Club's Award for Diplomatic Correspondence-found that multiple members of HRW's own governing bodies agreed with Bernstein, including Judge Richard Goldstone, no stranger to criticism of Israel.

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