Israel announced on Monday it will not allow a group of European officials to visit Israel due to their efforts to promote boycotts of the Jewish state.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced in a statement that he will adopt the recommendation of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to deny entry to the group’s 20 participants, among whom are French parliamentarians and mayors, and members of the European Parliament.
The group was scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas on November 19-23 and had announced that its primary purpose was to visit Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails and offer them support.
Deri said that the group’s members would be refused entry if they landed in Israel, and that he would also notify them in advance in the hope that they will not make the journey at all.
“This is not the first time I have denied entry to BDS activists,” Deri said, “but this time it is a delegation of European officials who are coming in order to work against Israel, which gives [the decision] more weight.”
Erdan said that he advocates a policy of fighting against those who support the boycott campaign.
“We will not allow entry to those who actively call for harming the State of Israel, especially in light of their request to meet and offer support to the arch-murderer Bargouti, and thus to support terror,” he said. “We are talking about political leaders who actively support the boycott against Israel and even promote it.”
Barghouti is the former leader of the Tanzim armed wing of Fatah and was convicted by Israel of being the founder of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, another Fatah terror group.
He is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for masterminding deadly terror attacks during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s.
Barghouti has remained politically active from behind bars, and is often touted as one of a few likely successors to 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In April Barghouti led a mass hunger strike to get better conditions for prisoners, but also, according to pundits, to demonstrate his political power and authority.