Rights groups pushing government to ban ex-Israel PM from entering Canada

Middle East Monitor  /  June 5, 2023

Several Canadian organizations have filed a legal brief to Canada’s government to bar former Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, from entering the country.

The application, known by its technical term of a “mandamus”, was filed by Khaled Mouammar, a former national president of the Canadian Arab Federation, on Friday in Federal Court and requires a judge to compel Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino, into deciding on Bennett’s admissibility.

It comes after Bennett was invited to the annual event of the “Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Jewish Centre” in Canada, which will be held in Toronto next month, where he is scheduled to be the main speaker, reported The Jurist.

According to the representatives of the organizations, Canada must prevent Bennett’s entry due to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The complaint states, “The federal government has the domestic and international legal obligations to exclude perpetrators of atrocities.”

Moreover, the complaint explains that Bennett has been “deeply involved in the development of illegal Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.”

It cites an Israeli NGO, Peace Now, report, which reveals Bennett’s role in increasing the development of “settlements on Palestinian land” and that his government supported the eviction of Palestinians from eastern Jerusalem.

The brief argues the continued expansion of Jewish settlements on territory occupied since 1967 constitute a war crime “per Canadian policy and the United Nations”.

Nicholas Pope, a lawyer with the Ottawa firm, Hameed Law, who is also seeking to ban the former Israeli Prime Minister from the country, said, “The law says there is a legal duty to render a decision here and we are going to the court to ask them to tell the government to do their legal duty.”

Meanwhile, Michael Levitt, CEO of the “Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre”, claims that attempts to block Bennett’s entry into Canada are “a baseless smear campaign” to “vilify and delegitimize the state of Israel and intimidate Canadian Jews”.

Levitt said his organization was “proud” to host a former Israeli prime minister who “formed the most diverse government in the country’s history that included an Arab party.”

Bennett was prime minister in a coalition government for a little over a year, between 2021 and 2022.