Israel has once again refused entry to Human Rights Watch.
In a letter sent this week, the Israeli authorities rejected the organization’s request for a tourist entry permit.
Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch director for Palestine, had sought to visit the region for a short work trip.
The new letter repeated earlier claims made by the Israeli interior ministry, when it refused Human Rights Watch’s application for Shakir’s five-year work permit.
In the new letter, Michal Yosef, Israel’s head of “border and crossing control,” alleges that Human Rights Watch works “in the service of Palestinian propaganda while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights.’”
The new letter seems to contradict claims made by Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry.
After Shakir’s work permit had been refused, Nahshon said that “Human Rights Watch representatives can, of course, enter Israel with tourists’ visas.”
Nahshon told the media last week that the interior ministry’s decision was announced without completing an internal consultation procedure and he said that the foreign ministry would reexamine the application.
The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz has reported that Benjamin Netanyahu instructed that a conciliatory approach be taken after the initial refusal was reported. As well as being prime minister, Netanyahu holds the foreign affairs portfolio.
Yet the new letter reiterates that the decision to bar Shakir was based on the opinion of Israel’s foreign ministry.
Shakir’s application for a work permit was denied seven months after he first applied, even though regulations stipulate applications should be completed within 60 days.
In the new letter, Michal Yosefov writes that given Shakir’s work permit had been denied, “we have found no special circumstances that warrant approval of his entry into the country.”
Iain Levine, a Human Rights Watch representative, described this week’s refusal as “deeply troubling.”