Israel orders expulsion of Human Rights Watch employee

Human Rights Watch's Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir. (AFP Photo)

Israel has given two weeks to Human Rights Watch director Omar Shakir to leave the country, accusing him of promoting boycotts, for the first time since the organization started working in Israel.

Israel's order to expel a Human Rights Watch (HRW) employee places the country in line with the world's worst rights violators, the employee facing expulsion told the dpa on Wednesday.

On Tuesday Israel's Interior Ministry revoked the work permit of Omar Shakir, a US citizen who heads the HRW office in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, saying that he promotes boycotts of Israel.

Shakir has been ordered to leave the country within 14 days of the revocation.

According to HRW it is the first time that an HRW employee has been ordered to leave since the organization started working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories 30 years ago.

"The reality is that Israel, by ordering my deportation, joined a list of countries like North Korea, Iran and Sudan, some of the worst violators who have denied access to Human Rights Watch staff," Shakir told dpa on Wednesday.

Under Israeli law the Interior Ministry is permitted to refuse visas to people who advocate boycotts against Israel, including Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Shakir and HRW deny any active involvement in the movement to boycott Israel and are planning to contest the revocation in court.

A government dossier on Shakir, provided to dpa by HRW, cites statements attributed to Shakir in support of boycott efforts and his involvement in a pro-Palestinian student group.

The dossier also cites HRW's lobbying of FIFA not to allow matches to be held in Israeli settlements and its advocation that companies not do business in the West Bank.

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