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Israel bars pro-BDS politicians from visiting jailed Palestinian leader

Palestinian activists stand around a 5x4 meter (16.5x13 feet) mosaic portrait of Marwan Barghouti near an Israeli military installation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 9, 2017. (Photo by AP)

Israel has refused to grant an entry visa to a group of French politicians, who intended to visit jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, over their support for a global pro-Palestine campaign against the regime’s occupation and land grab policies.

Israeli authorities said Monday that they would bar the seven-member delegation, including mayors and members of the EU Parliament, who were scheduled to visit the occupied territories from November 19 to 23.

Israel’s Interior Minister Arye Deri and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had informed the French politicians in advance that they would be prevented when they land “so that they do not fly at all.”

“This is not the first time that I have prevented the entry of boycotts activists who are against Israel,” said Erdan.

“This time, however, we are talking about senior European officials who come to act against Israel. After examining the background and circumstances, I decided that the delegation [these seven politicians] had no place in Israel.

“These are senior politicians who support a boycott against Israel and are actively advancing it,” he said.

The group hoped to meet Barghouti, the jailed leader of the Palestinian Fatah Movement, who is serving five life terms over his role in the second Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) of 2000 to 2005. Supporters say Barghouti has been unjustly imprisoned by Israel, calling him the “Palestinian Mandela.”

The delegation also wanted to visit French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, who has been held without charge by Israel since August 23 under the so-called administrative detention, which is a policy of detention without trial or charge.

Israel passed legislation in March, denying entry permits and temporary residency permits to anyone who has publicly called for a boycott of the regime or its settlement activities, which are illegal under international law.

Several of the banned politicians have in the past supported the worldwide anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to pressure corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel over its unjust practices toward the Palestinians.

The movement initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

The politicians have also called for an end to the EU Association Agreement with Israel, which sets out the terms of the diplomatic relationship between the two parties until such time as the regime withdraws from the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

They also signed a boycott petition and submitted it to former French President Francois Holland.

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have joined the BDS to help promote the Palestinian cause of ending Israeli occupation and oppression. Those include international trade unions, NGOs, initiatives, academic and business societies, trade unions, and cultural figures.

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