Israel Bars French MPs Planning to Visit Jailed Palestinian Leader

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Israel Bars French MPs Planning to Visit Jailed Palestinian Leader

Israeli authorities said Monday they would bar entry to the country of a group of French politicians seeking to visit jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti.

The decision was part of controversial efforts by Israel's government to bar supporters of a boycott of the country over its occupation of Palestinian territory.

Israel's interior and public security ministries in a joint statement suggested that the delegation "not fly at all".

Politicians from France's Communist party and from the hard-left France Unbowed party, including four parliament members, said they planned to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories from November 18-23.

The delegation hoped to meet Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian leader and prisoner who is serving five life sentences for murder over his role in the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, of 2000 to 2005.

Supporters say he has been unjustly imprisoned by Israel and call Barghouti the "Palestinian Mandela".

The delegation also wanted to visit French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, who has been held without charge by Israel since August 23 under a policy known as administrative detention.

Israel passed legislation in March banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country or its settlements, which are seen as illegal under international law.

It sees the boycott movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism -- a claim activists deny, saying they only want to see an end to Israel's occupation.

Source: AFP