Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas over ‘bias’
Israel will stop issuing work visas to Human Rights Watch staff, the NGO said on Feb. 24, with the authorities accusing the group of being “fundamentally biased” against it.
The New York-based watchdog, which has written critical reports about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, applied months ago for a visa for its Israel and Palestine director, American citizen Omar Shakir.
On February 20, Israeli authorities informed it the request had been rejected because HRW is “not a real human rights group,” the group said in a statement.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon confirmed the decision to AFP.
HRW, he said, had “demonstrated time and again it is a fundamentally biased and anti-Israeli organisation with a clear hostile agenda.”
But Nahshon added that the group was not banned and its Israeli and Palestinian employees would still be permitted to work in Israel and issue reports.
“But why should we give working visas to people whose only purpose is to besmirch us and to attack us?” he asked.
Israel’s government, seen as the most right-wing in the country’s history, has been accused of putting pressure on both international and local rights organizations.
“We are genuinely shocked,” Shakir said in response to the Israeli decision.