Co-founder of Israel boycott movement denied entry to US: report

The founder of a movement to boycott Israel has reportedly been denied entry to the United States, despite having necessary travel documents.

Airline staff at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport told Omar Barghouti on Wednesday that U.S. immigration officials had told the U.S. Counsel in Tel Aviv to deny him permission to enter the country for a speaking tour, according to NPR.

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"Barghouti was not provided an explanation for his denial of entry beyond 'immigration matter,' " the Arab American Institute, which had arranged the trip, said in a statement.

"It is disturbing that policymakers and the American people will not have the opportunity to hear from Omar directly about his views," Arab American Institute President James Zogby said, according to the news outlet.

Barghouti, a Palestinian activist, co-founded the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to use financial pressure to draw attention to Israeli settlement policies in the West Bank.

He has a master’s degree from Columbia University and lived in the U.S. for a decade, and has had difficulties traveling between the U.S. and Israel, where he is a permanent resident, according to NPR, which added that those issues typically involve the Israeli government rather than Washington.

In 2016, the Israeli government refused to renew his travel documents, with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri saying Barghouti was "using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner."

A State Department official told The Hill the department cannot discuss individual visa case details. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The report comes the same week House Republicans launched a discharge petition to force a vote on a Senate bill allowing state and city governments to penalize entities promoting the BDS movement.

Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad Trump to hold Hamptons fundraisers; top ticket is 0K: report MORE (R-N.Y.), who co-introduced the discharge petition, praised the recent development. 

“Barghouti’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate must not be tolerated, empowered or embraced, and I applaud the Administration's denial of his entry to the United States," the Jewish lawmaker said in a statement.

Updated at 12:32 p.m.