Israel grants visa to anti-Israel activist

A Human Rights Watch activist originally denied entry into Israel has now been granted access.

Israel has granted a work visa to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) regional director and a known anti-Israel activist who was denied entry to the country earlier this year.

The New York-based HRW said Wednesday that Omar Shakir received the one-year work permit after landing in Israel.

Iain Levine, an HRW program director, said Israel has “taken an important step to safeguard the principle of transparency and demonstrate their openness to criticism.”

“Grant of work permit to HRW a step in showing Israel’s openness to criticism, we hope signals wider protection of space for rights defenders,” Shakir tweeted.

Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment and offered no explanation for this apparent change in policy.

The Interior Ministry, at the time of the ban in February, said in a letter that the group’s reports “have engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights.’”

The recommendation to refuse entry to HRW activists came from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the letter said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called HRW a “blatantly hostile anti-Israeli organization whose reports have the sole purpose of harming Israel with no consideration whatsoever for the truth or reality.”

Shakir is a consistent supporter of a binational one-state framework and an advocate for BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions) tactics, fitting the longstanding HRW practice of hiring anti-Israel activists to serve in key positions relating to Israel.

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On Youtube, Shakir can be seen calling Israel an apartheid state and promoting anti-Israel boycotts.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff