Israel denies entry to EU officials under new anti-BDS law

Israel announced on Monday it would deny entry to seven members of a delegation of European officials using the recently approved legislation that bars visits by anti-Israel boycott activists.  The 20-member delegation, which was set to arrive in Israel next week, was to include European Parliament members and French mayors. The Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority said seven of the 20 delegation members will be barred from entering Israel, adding it obtained information that they had called for a boycott of Israel. According to Interior Minister Arye Dery and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the purpose of the visit was to meet with the convicted Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti at Hadarim Prison, “as part of their support for Barghouti and Palestinian prisoners.” Erdan said that these are “senior politicians who consistently support the boycott against Israel and promote it.” He added that “we will not permit entry to those who actively call to harm the State of Israel, especially in light of their request to meet and offer support to the archterrorist Marwan Barghouti.”
An official document of the Strategic Affairs Ministry obtained by Haaretz proposes preventing members of a European delegation permitted to enter Israel from visiting Barghouti. “The issue of prisoner visits is not the responsibility of the Strategic Affair Ministry,” the document stated. “Still, the issue of Palestinian prisoners and efforts to delegitimize Israel are intertwined. The ministry’s position is to not allow any delegation member to visit Marwan Barghouti, as a visit is liable to give him a tailwind.” The document was written by a senior ministry official.
The official noted that the information about the delegation was received from the Foreign Ministry, in the wake of a letter that one of the leaders of the delegation sent to the Israeli embassy in France. The mayor of Gennevilliers, Patrice Leclerc, informed the embassy that the delegation consists of 20 members – French parliamentarians, EU parliamentarians and French mayors belonging to the “Barghouti network.”
The document says that these “mayors are part of the far left in France, who have championed a campaign of support for Barghouti and Palestinian prisoners.” It stressed, “The delegation’s declared main goal is visiting Barghouti.” He noted that the initiative arose over a year ago on a similar trip that “Barghouti network” mayors had taken, but that they didn’t meet with him in the end.

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