Israeli occupation officials bar French mayors, parliamentarians from Palestine for BDS support, prisoner solidarity

The Israeli occupation state has vowed to prevent a delegation of French mayors who wish to visit imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarian and Fateh political leader Marwan Barghouthi from entering occupied Palestine, citing anti-BDS political exclusion. Gilad Erdan, Israeli security minister, declared that “We will not allow anyone who calls for a boycott of our state to visit us.”

The delegation of 20 European parliamentarians, mayors and other officials is scheduled to arrive in Ben-Gurion airport on 19 November. Erdan and Deri said that seven members will be denied entry due to their support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). The delegation seeks to visit with Barghouthi, the prominent imprisoned Palestinian leader and Fateh official, in Hadarim prison and express support for the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle for freedom.

Erdan’s security ministry benefits from research and development funds provided by Israel under the “Horizon 2020 program.” For example, LAW-TRAIN, the research project on interrogation that was later spurned by Portugal and is the subject of a large campaign in Belgium, is managed in partnership with Erdan’s ministry.

Aryeh Deri, fellow far-right interior minister, stated that the European delegation should “change the members of the delegation,” because they will not be allowed to enter.

It is also expected that the delegation will seek to visit Salah Hamouri, the Palestinian-French lawyer and human rights defender imprisoned without charge or trial, whose case has received support from municipalities and elected officials across France. Erdan’s Strategic Affairs ministry labeled Hamouri an “extremist delegitimizing activist;” in most cases, the term “delegitimization” is used to describe support for the BDS campaign. The language used in the document is highly indicative of the true reasons Hamouri is imprisoned – because of his political activity, defense of fellow Palestinian prisoners and role in advocating for Palestine in France.

The seven targeted officials include Members of European Parliament Pascal Durand and Patrick Le Hyaric, French parliamentarian Clementine Autain, Gennevilliers mayor Patrice Leclerc, Stains mayor Azzedine Taibi, Limay mayor Eric Roulot and French Communist Party leader Pierre Laurent.

This is only the latest attempt to suppress support for the Palestinian people and Palestinian prisoners and prevent the exposure of Israeli colonization, occupation and oppression from reaching international audiences through politically-motivated denials of entry. As noted in Ha’aretz, the ministry says that “the issue of Palestinian prisoners and efforts to delegitimize Israel are intertwined,” which indicates the growing effectiveness and importance of BDS and solidarity campaigns that highlight the cause of the Palestinian prisoners.

Human rights activists, including Raed Jarrar of Amnesty International, have been repeatedly barred under the anti-BDS laws, while Charlotte Kates of Samidoun was denied entry while coordinating a prisoner solidarity delegation after questioning about BDS activities. Palestinians born outside Palestine carrying European, U.S. and other passports are routinely denied entry both in retaliation for their activism and as a racist daily practice.