The effective travel ban imposed by the Israeli government on the BDS Movementâ€™s co-founder Omar Barghouti was temporarily suspended for two months, during a court hearing at Haifa District Court, on 19 July 2016.
Barghouti has been under an effective travel ban since April of 2016, ostensibly based on the claim, by the state, that the â€ścenter of his life is not in Israel.â€ť Israeli ministers and official spokespeople, however, haveÂ explicitly mentioned Barghoutiâ€™s human rights activities in the BDS movement as the real motive behind the anti-democratic travel ban.
Given the failure of Israelâ€™s Ministry of Interior to take the necessary legal steps that are required prior toÂ deciding not to renew Barghoutiâ€™s travel document, Barghoutiâ€™s lawyer, Gila Barzili proposed in court that the Ministry should grant Barghouti at least a temporary renewal of his travel document until it has fulfilled these requirements. The stateâ€™s attorney accepted the proposal.
Examining all the evidence that was presented on Barghoutiâ€™s behalf â€” that proves that his â€ścenter of lifeâ€ť is in present-day Israel â€” and granting him a hearing are considered fundamental rights that he is entitled to before the state decides on any measure that violates his human rights.
The Haifa District Court determined, according to the PNN,Â that a re-examination of Barghoutiâ€™s application for the renewal of his travel document is to be conducted by the Ministry of Interior, and until then he is entitled to have his travel document renewed.
Around the same time, Omar Barghouti was announced as a winner â€” along with Ralph Nader â€” of theÂ Gandhi Peace Award for the year 2016, presented by the US-based organization Promoting Enduring Peace. The Gandhi Peace Award has been presented since 1960 to people who have made â€śoutstanding contributions to world peace, creating a sustainable ecology andÂ social justice.â€ť
Speaking on behalf of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society that is leading the global BDS movement, Mahmoud Nawajaa reacted to the Haifa court results saying:
â€śThis temporary lifting of Israelâ€™s travel ban on Omar Barghouti clearly reflects the impact of the worldwide condemnation of the ban and of Israelâ€™s all-out legal, intelligence and propaganda war on the BDS movement.â€ť
â€śBy evoking the worst days of McCarthyism, Israel, just like the apartheid regime in South Africa had done, is alienating the liberal mainstream and inadvertently expanding the appeal of the BDS movement in it at unprecedented rates.â€ť
â€śIsraelâ€™s war on BDS seems to be backfiring. It has triggered the long-sought recognition by European governments and leading international human rights organizations for the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights through the boycott of Israel.â€ť
â€śBut we should not relax. This is only a procedural delay in Israelâ€™s still-ongoing process of punishing Omar for his defense of Palestinian human rights. We urge people of conscience around the world to intensify their efforts to counter Israelâ€™s repressive war on the BDS movement, as only effective and sustained pressure can have a significant impact. We call on fellow BDS activists to continue their inspiring work of growing the movement in pursuit of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.â€ť
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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.