US student refused entry to Israel launches final appeal

US student refused entry to Israel launches final appeal

Her case has touched off debate in Israel over whether democratic values have been compromised by a 2017 law that bars the entry of foreigners who publicly support anti-Israel boycotts, and if a hard line against the student would ultimately harm the country's image.

A U.S. student barred from Israel over alleged support for a pro-Palestinian boycott campaign issued a last-minute request on Sunday to appeal the decision with the state's top court, her lawyer said.

Alqasem, reportedly of Palestinian descent, was president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine during her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida.

Judge Uzi Vogelman of the High Court of Justice handed down the decision, freezing the deportation order less than an hour before the deadline set by the Tel Aviv District Court.

Her lawyer, Yotam Ben Hillel, said he hoped the procedure would progress swiftly.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel's stance was similar to other countries' practices. "That's also true of numerous European democracies".

Our request is made as part of the worldwide BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign which was launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society groups to bring pressure to end Israeli apartheid. At that hearing, the court will determine whether it will hear Alqasem's appeal.

Alqasem is enrolled to begin classes at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem after having secured a one-year student visa from the Israeli Consulate in Miami.

Pressuring Israel to end its apartheid policies towards Palestinians, end its occupation of Palestinian land and allow for the return of refugees forced from their homes when Israel was formed is something all of us should support. "It needs very unique circumstances", she told Reuters.

About 20 students and professors from the Hebrew University protested Alqasem's detention at its campus in Jerusalem as the university said it would join in her most recent appeal, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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