Occupied Jerusalem: Israel’s top court weighed an appeal on Wednesday by an American student facing deportation, under a law against foreign pro-Palestinian activists who call for boycotts of Israel.
Lara Al Qasem, 22, flew to Israel on October 2 on a study visa, but was refused entry by security officials who cited her role as president of a small local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Florida.
Al Qasem’s case has touched off debate in Israel over whether democratic values have been compromised by a 2017 law that bars the entry of foreigners who publicly support boycotts over Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
Al Qasem, who is of Palestinian descent, has been detained at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv since being denied entry to the country.
Occupied Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, where she was due to begin a year-long master’s programme on Sunday, also urged the court to reconsider. At a hearing in Israel’s Supreme Court in occupied Jerusalem, Al Qasem’s lawyers said she was no longer active in the boycott movement and should be allowed in, the same argument made to a lower court that rejected her appeal last week.
“Only someone who consistently and continuously calls for a boycott is somebody who should face a ban,” Yotam Ben-Hillel, one of Al Qasem’s attorneys argued in front of the three justices. “She made a commitment to the (lower court) that if she enters Israel, she will not call for a boycott.” The three justices hearing the case said they would deliver their ruling in writing.
Leora Bechor, another attorney acting for Al Qasem, said she was hoping for a swift verdict, possibly later in the day.