Israel has denied a work permit to the Human Rights Watch director, accusing the group of serving as Palestinian propagandists. Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon explained the decision, stressing it was because of the organization’s ongoing “extreme, hostile anti-Israel agenda”, working at the service of Palestinian propaganda, in a totally biased manner.” Human Rights Watch director for Israel and Palestine Omar Shakir, who was refused the work visa, said the decision came as a surprise.
“Human Rights Watch on my behalf applied for a work permit, so I could take up my post as Israel and Palestine Director on the ground in Jerusalem. After waiting about six months for a response from the Israeli Interior Ministry, from whom we asked of the work permit, we received a response on Monday informing us that our request had been denied on the basis that Human Rights Watch was not a real human rights organization, that instead we were engaging in propaganda and falsely raising the banner of human rights.” / “The decision came as a shock, not only because we’ve had for nearly three-decades regular access to Israel and the West bank. But also, because we regularly correspond and engage with Israeli Authorities. And while we’ve often disagreed on the substance for findings, we’ve had a professional, working relationship,” said Shakir.
Shakir stressed that even though the denial impedes the organization’s work, they will seek to reverse Israel’s decision, while continue to work monitor the situation from afar. “The reality is this denial has impeded our work on a series, a variety of important issues both pertaining to abuses by the Palestinian Authority, by Israel and Hamas. But we intend to continue to seek a reversal in policy and in the interim, we’ll do the best to make do with our current resources on the ground and outside of Israel,” added Shakir.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem emphasized that its decision was specifically for the ‘Human Rights Watch’, which it defined as operating under the false banner of human rights. The ministry emphasized that the decision to deny human Rights watch did not in any way represent a change in policy, and will not affect other Non-government organizations operating in the country.