A member of Spain’s ruling political party who is descended from Palestinian refugees was barred from entering Israel earlier this week because he was deemed a threat to national security.
Lebanese-born Fouad Ahmad Assadi arrived in Israel to participate in the annual conference of Socialist International, being held in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, but was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport and sent back to Spain, Haaretz reported Tuesday.
The Shin Bet security service said Assadi’s entry was blocked for “security reasons,” but did not specify its concerns.
Assadi, a member of Spain’s Socialist Party, arrived on Sunday evening and was immediately questioned by security officials who told him that he could not proceed any further.
In a statement to Haaretz, the Shin Bet said that Assadi, whose parents are Palestinian refugees, has been denied entry to Israel in the past.
“Mr. Fouad’s entry to Israel was prevented in the past and now as well for security reasons,” the agency said. “Upon his arrival in Israel, Mr. Fouad was questioned by security authorities and, as was explained to him, his entry was prevented due to concerns that his stay in Israel could be a danger to national security.”
Assadi told the paper that he has lived in Spain for 40 years and has visited Israel many times. He suggested he was blocked because he has visited relatives in Syria, where he also has business interests. Assadi said he believes in peace and supports the two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but following his experience in Israel, “it seems nobody there wants to.”
The Shin Bet statement did not explain why Fouad is considered a security threat. Conference participants from Albania and Kosovo told Haaretz that they too were questioned at the airport but eventually permitted to enter the country and attend the event.
Some 100 people from 25 countries attended the SI conference. On Tuesday Israeli representatives from the left-wing Meretz party including MK Tamar Zandberg and former MKs Mossi Raz, Colette Avital and Avshalom Vilan attended the Ramallah conference. The Israeli delegation met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
In 2017 Israel passed a controversial law that allows the interior minister to deport or deny entry to supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the country.
Spanish boycott activist Ana Sanchez Mera of the BDS National Committee was refused entry into Israel in 2018 on the instructions of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, following a recommendation from Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is responsible for countering boycott campaigns.
The controversial law has also been applied in several other cases including against pro-Palestinian activist Ariel Gold, a Jewish American who was denied entry in 2018.