Israel bans Human Right Watch worker, accuses group of peddling pro-Palestinian line

By Ori Lewis

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has denied a work permit to a Human Rights Watch researcher, accusing the group of serving as Palestinian propagandists in a move the U.S.-based organisation called an “ominous turn”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the decision had been taken because of HRW’s “extreme, hostile anti-Israel agenda which was working at the service of Palestinian propaganda…in a totally biased manner.”

The news emerged as Israel faced criticism from the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva over the 18-month jail sentence handed to an Israeli soldier who shot an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the head. The council called it an “apparent extrajudicial execution of an unarmed man”.

U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said the sentence given to soldier Elor Azaria was “excessively lenient” and part of a “chronic culture of impunity” for Israeli abuse of Palestinians.

Many Israelis, particularly from the right-wing, opposed the prosecution of Azaria for killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif Elor, who had attacked one of his comrades with a knife.

HRW said it was “disappointing that the Israeli government seems unable or unwilling to distinguish between justified criticisms of its actions and hostile political propaganda”.

The organisation had been granted unimpeded access to Israel and the West Bank for three decades. Israel had now joined Cuba, Egypt, North Korea, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela as…

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