A founder of the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel will be unable to speak at an event at the UK Labour Party’s upcoming annual conference due to his visa request being delayed.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), a pro-BDS group hosting the event on the sidelines of the Labour conference in Brighton, on Friday said Omar Barghouti would instead address the gathering by video due to the UK government’s “unexplained, abnormal delay” in issuing him a visa.
“The unprecedented delay in processing Barghouti’s travel visa application by the British government is part and parcel of the growing efforts by Israel and its allies to suppress Palestinian voices and the movements for Palestinian rights,” PSC said in a statement.
Barghouti had been set to speak at the “Palestine in the age of Trump” event alongside Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Unite union chief Len McCluskey, both allies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“They fear our shining a light of truth that reveals their lies. They dread our tireless quest for freedom, justice and equality,” Barghouti said, according to the PSC statement.
There was no immediate comment from the UK Home Office, which handles visa requests.
Corbyn, a strong critic of Israel, has said he doesn’t support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, though at the Labour conference last year the party passed a motion calling to ban all UK weapons sales to Israel.
Since becoming Labour leader in 2015, Corbyn has come under scrutiny for his criticism of Israel and past contacts with the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups, both sworn to Israel’s destruction.
Labour and Corbyn himself have also been rocked by accusations of anti-Semitism, with fresh scrutiny coming after a number of former party officials accused him and his allies of interfering in efforts to address the issue, in a recent BBC program.
Earlier this year, Barghouti was denied entry to the US for a multi-city speaking tour.
The Arab American Institute said at the time that Barghouti, a resident of Acre who is married to an Arab Israeli and holds Israeli permanent resident status, was not provided an explanation for his denial of entry beyond being told it was an “immigration matter.”
James Zogby, the head of the Arab American Institute, called Barghouti’s ban an “arbitrary political decision,” and accused the Trump administration of working to “silence Palestinian voices.”
Israel has barred 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.
The BDS campaign advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli businesses, universities and artists. Supporters say BDS is a non-violent movement for Palestinian independence, but Israel claims it aims to delegitimize the Jewish state, and it has been condemned by many as anti-Semitic at its roots.