Middle East Monitor / September 16, 2019
Efforts to revoke the residency of Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), have been escalated to Israel’s deputy Attorney General for a decision over his status in the country.
Barghouti, considered “major threat to the citizens of Israel” by the country’s ultra-right politicians, has already been banned from entering the US; a decision denounced by the Palestinian human rights activists as “McCarthyite repression”. His entry ban in April along with Israel’s decision to block American Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country due to their support for BDS, is being used by Barghouti’s opponents in Israel to revoke his residency status.
Keti Shitrit, a member of the Likud Party, which does not recognise the right of Palestinians to a state of their own and campaigns for a Zionist state from the “Jordan River to the Sea”, is reported protesting against the “absurd situation where Israel denied entry to two Congresswomen due to their support of BDS, while allowing the BDS founder and leader to reside in Israel and receive full benefits from the State of Israel”.
The remarks came as the Israeli government faces further pressure to expel Barghouti from the country. The initial call to revoke his residency status came from Betzalmo. In its letter to the Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and Interior Minister Arye Deri, the right-wing NGO noted the US’ denial of entry and asked why the Israeli government has not acted in a similar fashion to strip Barghouti of his residency rights.
According to Arutz Sheva, Mandelblit has referred the decision to Deputy Attorney General, Dina Zilber.
“We are pleased that the AG [Attorney General] has finally decided, after years of appeals from Betzlamo and several MKs, including the Minister of the Interior who addressed him on the matter, to pass this decision to the Deputy AG,” the Israeli group said in a letter. “We have no doubt that the Deputy AG shall decide that anyone who harms the State of Israel will not receive benefits from it. Any other decision would ridicule and curtail Israel’s struggle against the boycott movement and the Israel’s demand from other countries to fight against it,” it added.
Knesset member Shitrit is reported to have written to Deputy Attorney General, in what seems to be an attempt to put further pressure on Zilber. “It has been brought to my attention the decision whether to revoke the BDS leader Omar Barghouti’s residency is at your desk,” the Likud MK said. After denouncing BDS she added: “honorable Deputy AG, I urge you to exercise your authority, to weaken the power of the BDS leader, to maintain our dignity and not to let our major enemy dwell within us.”