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Palestinian-American student wins appeal to enter Israel

Published: Updated:

A Palestinian-American student who was barred from entering Israel under a law against foreign activists who support boycotts of the state over its Palestinian policies was given permission to stay in the country by the Supreme Court on Thursday.

In its ruling, the court criticized Israeli authorities for denying entry to Lara Alqasem, 22, saying their decision gave “the unavoidable impression” that she was barred for her political opinions.

Alqasem was refused entry when she flew to Israel on a study visa earlier this month. Security officials cited her role as president of a small local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Florida.

The decision to prevent her entry into Israel is supported by a 2017 law that bars the entry of foreigners who publicly support boycotts over Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.

Thursday's ruling, seen by Reuters, overturned a lower court decision that had backed the decision by Israeli authorities.

Alqasem said she was relieved by the court's decision. Her lawyers called the ruling “a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who had denied Alqasem entry, said the government would look into the implications of the ruling.

“We will examine the legal criteria in order to ensure that the original intent of the law is maintained,” he said. “The principle that whoever acts to harm the State of Israel and its citizens should be refused entry must be preserved.”