Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Sunday, October 6, that he has directed the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare a legal opinion to be used in the deportation of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions activist Omar Barghouti.
Barghouti holds permanent Israeli residency status, which he obtained after marrying an Arab woman who is an Israeli citizen, and with whom he lives in the northern city of Acre. Despite calling for an academic boycott of Israel Barghouti holds a PhD in ethics which he received from Tel Aviv University. In 2017, Israel arrested him on “suspicion of tax evasion” apparently to deter him from his political activities.
Israel has prevented Barghouti from leaving the county a number of times in recent years by refusing to renew travel documents granted to Palestinian residents of Israel who do not have full citizenship. In the most recent such incident, in April of this year, he was barred from boarding a flight from Tel Aviv to New York for a multi-city speaking tour in the United States, despite having a valid travel document and visa. At Ben Gurion International Airport Barghouti was informed by airline staff that the US Consulate in Tel Aviv had directed US immigration services to deny his entry.
In response to Interior Minister Deri’s announcement on Sunday about the possible deporting of Barghouti, Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) said in a statement, “I have only one thing to say to Minister Deri: We [Arab-Palestinians in Israel] 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,” vowed Odeh.