Interior Minister Aryeh Deri refused to allow the mayor of the French city of Gennevilliers, Patrice Leclerc, to enter Israel on Monday, April 16. Deri’s move came in the wake of a recommendation by Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan. Leclerc intended to enter the Israeli-controlled West Bank via the Allenby Crossing from Jordan with his wife.
Last November, Leclerc was part of a Communist and French Left delegation of mayors who unsuccessfully attempted to enter Israel to visit two Palestinians imprisoned by Israel: Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and Addameer’s Palestinian-French field researcher and human rights defender Salah Hamouri, who is incarcerated under “administrative detention.” At that time, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) 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.
This week Deri announced that he would refuse Leclerc and his wife’s entry based on information provided by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, making the second time in six months that Leclerc was barred entrance. Far-right Minister of Strategic Affairs and Information Gilad Erdan said: “The rules of the game have changed and the State of Israel will not restrain itself from attempts to boycott and harm Israel.”
According to a leading member of the Communist Party of Israel, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List), “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 of Israel.”