PLO denounces Israel for deporting Chilean BDS activist

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi denounced Israel for deporting head of the Palestinian Federation of Chile Anwar Makhlouf, who is well known for his activism in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“The deportation of Mr. Makhlouf, who is committed to BDS, a legitimate form of nonviolent and peaceful resistance, is a blatant and crude exercise of power and a form of political siege,” Ashrawi wrote in a written statement Tuesday, a day after Makhlouf was denied entry through the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank.

According to Ashrawi, Makhlouf “was leading an annual delegation to familiarize Chileans of Palestinian descent with Palestine, and to celebrate Easter in the Holy Land,” when Israeli authorities decided to deport him.

“Israel’s treatment of Palestine as an internal issue and its attempts to isolate the Palestinian people from the rest of the world reaffirm the urgent need for international intervention; Israel should not be given a free hand to constantly slight the world and get away with it,” she insisted.

“We call on Chile to hold Israel accountable for the deportation of Mr. Makhlouf and to define its political and trade relations with Israel accordingly,” her statement concluded.

The incident came after Israel also denied entry to the chairman of the London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Hugh Lanning last month, just one week after Israel passed the controversial “BDS ban” law.

Right-wing Israeli lawmaker and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said at the time that “whoever acts against Israel should understand that the rules of the game have changed. No sane country would allow entry to key boycott activists working to harm the country’s core interests and lead to its isolation.”

The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

BDS has gained momentum over the years, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel’s ban applies to foreigners who call for a boycott of Israeli institutions and illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.