Interior minister moves to deport Palestinian BDS founder

Aryeh Deri orders population authority to prepare legal opinion to strip Omar Barghouti of his permanent residency status, after deputy AG gives him go-ahead

Omar Barghouti gives an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser/File)
Omar Barghouti gives an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser/File)

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Sunday that he had directed the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare a legal opinion to be used in the deportation of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions founder Omar Barghouti.

Barghouti holds Israeli permanent residency status, which he obtained after marrying an Arab Israeli woman, with whom he lives in the northern city of Acre.

“I intend to act quickly to deprive Omar Barghouti of residency status in Israel, Deri said in a statement announcing the move. “This is a man who does everything to harm the country and therefore must not enjoy the right to be a resident of Israel.”

The Interior Ministry said that the opportunity became available to push for Bargouti’s deportation after Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber notified his office that it had the authority to revoke the BDS founder’s residency status.

This was thanks to a 2018 amendment to Israeli residency laws that makes breach of trust a crime significant enough to allow the interior minister to strip an individual of his or her residency status. According to an interpretation of the law, boycotting Israel could constitute such an offense.

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 the campgain aims to delegitimize the Jewish state, and it has been condemned by many as anti-Semitic.

Blasting Deri’s announcement, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said in a statement, “I have only one thing to say to Minister Deri: We [Arab Israelis] 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,” added Odeh.

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