Israel announced on Monday, November 13, that it is denying entry to seven members of a delegation of European officials based on the recently passed legislation that bars visits by anti-Israel boycott activists.
The 20-person delegation, which was set to arrive in Israel next week, was to include Communist members of the European Parliament as well as other party activists and French mayors who are also Communists. The Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority said seven of the 20 delegation members would be barred from entering Israel, adding it obtained information that they had called for a boycott of Israel.
According to a leading member of the Communist Party of Israel (CPI), MK Dov Khenin, “The interior minister is not authorized to serve as a commissar standing at the gate and deciding for the country’s citizens and for the residents of the Palestinian occupied territories, who are dependent on Israeli border crossings, which political positions are appropriate to be heard. Freedom of expression is not just the right to express oneself, but also the right to be exposed to opinions, even opinions that outrage and infuriate the far-right government in Israel.”
According to Interior Minister Arye Dery and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the purpose of the visit was to meet with the Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti at Hadarim Prison, “as part of their support for Barghouti and Palestinian prisoners.”
It was also mentioned that the Foreign Ministry had understood that the delegation would try to visit another Palestinian prisoner, Salah Hamouri, as well. Hamouri “has made himself a symbol of the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle in France.” Attorney Hamouri, a Palestinian Frenchman who works as an investigator for the Addameer, was arrested by IDF forces in late August.” Addameer is the Ramallah-based Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
The Strategic Affair Ministry recommended barring the entry into Israel of seven members of the French delegation: MEPs Pascal Durand and Patrick Le Hyaric (editor in chief of the Communist daily newspaper L’Humanite); French parliamentarian Clementine Autain; mayors Azzedine Taibi, Eric Roulot and Patrice Leclerc; and Pierre Laurent, the head of the French Communist Party.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has issued a statement protesting the decision to bar members of the delegation from entering the country. They called the Israeli law allowing authorities to bar entry by boycott advocates a violation of basic democratic principles by making political views a consideration in allowing foreign citizens to visit Israel and the territories. “Anyone seeking to enter Israel certainly shouldn’t have to toe the line with the current Israeli government position on the subject of the occupation,” ACRI maintains.
Related: Posts on Salah Hamouri