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1ST LEAD Minister: Detained US student may enter Israel if views renounced By Eliyahu Kamisher, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Tel Aviv (dpa) - A top Israeli minister said he would reconsider the case of a US student who was barred from entering the country if she renounced her alleged support for boycotts of Israel.

Lara Alqasem, 22, who is of Palestinian descent, has remained in a detention centre for a week pending appeal. She attempted to enter Israel last week on a student visa to start a graduate degree at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Alqasem was prevented from entering over her past affiliation with Students for Justice in Palestine, which supports boycotts of Israel.

The student is free to return to the United States, but she chose to remain in the detention centre at Ben Gurion Airport because she is determined to start her graduate programme on time, her lawyer Yotam Ben-Hillel said.

On Tuesday, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose ministry was responsible for compiling the report on Alqasem alleging boycott support, told Israel‘s Army Radio he would reconsider the decision to bar her entry if she denounces BDS, an international movement to boycott Israel.

"If Lara Alqasem comes tomorrow morning in her own voice, not with all kinds of lawyer‘s tricks and expressions that can be interpreted in one way or another - and she declares that support for BDS is illegitimate and that she regrets what she did on this subject, we will reconsider our position," Erdan said.

Erdan went on to attack the Hebrew University, which has voiced support for Alqasem, as "working together with radical leftists." 

Ben-Hillel said he has yet to discuss Erdan‘s proposal with Alqasem.

During her testimony to the appeals court, Alqasem said she no longer supports BDS. A ruling on the validity of the government‘s decision to bar her is expected within a week.

BDS says it seeks an economic and cultural boycott of what it calls Israel‘s "entire regime of oppression" in the name of Palestinian human rights. Israel accuses the movement of anti-Semitism and seeking an end to the Jewish-majority state by promoting the return of Palestinian refugees.

A US Embassy official said Alqasem is being provided consular assistance

"Our strong opposition to boycotts and sanctions of the State of Israel is well known," the official said

"As a general principle, we value freedom of expression, even in cases where we do not agree with the political views espoused," the official added.

Last year the Israeli parliament passed a controversial law enabling the Interior Ministry to refuse entry to non-citizens that have issued a "public call" to boycott Israel, including Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry has also published a blacklist of 20 organizations that it says are prevented from entering Israel over support for the BDS movement


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