Birzeit University (BZU), located north of Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority, on Thursday issued a press release claiming that Israel has been denying or delaying work visas for foreign lecturers. According to BZU, since the beginning of the current academic year, scores of foreign passport holders, many of whom were born in the area but aren’t legal residents, have been denied entry into Israel or have had their visa renewal applications rejected by Israel’s Interior Ministry.
At BZU, 15 foreign passport-holding faculty members’ requests for visa renewals have been refused or significantly delayed, according to the same press release, and a few professors have already been forced to leave the country. These include a member of the Department of English and Literature, and a professor of European History at the Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute for International Studies.
PA Education Minister Sabri Saidam told a press conference on Thursday that more than half of the “academics of Palestinian origin who hold foreign passports and who work at Palestinian universities in the occupied territories” have been either denied or delayed getting an Israeli visa over the past two years.
In March 2017, the Knesset passed a law prohibiting the granting of entry visas or permits to stay in Israel to foreign citizens who called for a boycott of Israel. The law was passed with 46 MKs for and 28 against. It amended the previous law, which granted an automatic visa to foreigners but allowed the Interior Minister to deny the entry of a person who called for a boycott of Israel. Now the banning will be automatic, but the Interior Minister will have the authority and discretion to permit the entry of a person whose entry is prohibited by the new version.
The Ministry of Strategic Affairs last January published a list of organizations whose activists would not be allowed to enter Israel because of their support for a boycott of Israel.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose office drafted the list, said that “no country would allow visitors who come to harm the country to enter.” According to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, “These people are trying to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to slander the country. I will work against it in every way.”
The blacklist includes:
Organizations from Europe: The European Association for the Liberation of Palestine (AFPS), the Association France Palestine Solidarité, BDS France, BDS Italy, ECCP (The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine), FOA (Friends of Al-Aqsa Norway), Palestinianakomitee, PGS (Palestine Solidarity Association in Sweden), Palestinianagrupperna i Sverige, PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign), War on Want, BDS Kampagne.
Organizations from the United States:
AFSC (American Friends Service Committee), AMP (American Muslims for Palestine), Code Pink, JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace), NSJP (US Students for Justice in Palestine), USCPR (US Campaign for Palestinian Rights).
Other blacklisted organizations:
BDS Chile, BDS South Africa, BNC (BDS National Committee).