The chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has been refused entry to Israel, days after the Knesset passed a new law to bar supporters of the boycott campaign.
Hugh Lanning arrived in the Jewish state today but is understood to have been denied entry under the authority of the interior ministry – raising the likelihood he is the first high profile figure to fall foul of the law.
Lanning, who was pictured meeting Hamas figures in Gaza five years ago, is due to fly back to the UK in the morning.
A statement from the Israeli Embassy in the UK said stressed the PSC’s support for the BDS campaign and added he “is associated with the leaders of Hamas, which is designated as a terror group across the European Union; a group whose antisemitic charter calls for killing all Jews.
“Israel is seeking a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Palestinians. Those who promote extremism should not be allowed to foment their hatred in Israel.”
Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign condemned Israel, saying the law is “violating fundamental freedoms essential to a democracy- the right to free speech, to criticise government policies and human rights violations, the right to advocate non-violent actions to address human rights abuses, the right of free movement and travel. A democratic country does not behave in the way Israel is behaving.
“If Israel believes that by introducing these draconian undemocratic laws it will intimidate its critics into silence it is mistaken. The PSC will not stop raising its voice to highlight the systematic violation of Palestinian human rights in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel itself.”
“We call upon all those who care about democratic values to join us in condemning the deportation of Hugh Lanning and the passing of this repressive law. We call upon the British Government to make clear to Israel that it is not acceptable for it to ban entry to British citizens whose only crime is to advocate for human rights of the Palestinian people and to protest against policies that violate those rights.”
Last week, the Israeli Parliament passed controversial legislation that would bar supporters of a full boycott or one targeted at settlements, as well as individuals who are part of organisations that do. It led to unprecedented criticism from Jewish groups in the UK, who branded it “undemocratic” and “indiscriminate”.