UK

UK pro-Palestinian activist deported from Israel

Hugh Lanning Image copyright Labour Party
Image caption Hugh Lanning was put on a flight back to the UK after he arrived in Israel

A UK activist has been blocked from entering Israel because of his support for a movement urging a boycott of the country, Israeli officials say.

Hugh Lanning, chairman of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, was deported after arriving on Sunday.

It comes days after Israel passed a law barring entry to foreign backers of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The PSC says the law violates basic "freedoms essential to democracy".

Israel's Immigration Authority said Mr Lanning was not stopped due to the new law, but instead on the discretion of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.

It also released an image showing Mr Lanning in a meeting with the then-leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in 2012.

'Demonise'

In an article in September of last year, Mr Lanning wrote: "Israel is colonising Palestine before the world's eyes, in the knowledge that there will only be words in response from their allies in governments across the world."

His organisation, the PSC, says it campaigns for "justice and equality for Palestinians". However Israel says its true aim is to delegitimise the Jewish state.

A statement from the Embassy of Israel in London said PSC "leads the campaign in the UK to demonise and boycott Israel".

Image copyright Israel immigration authority
Image caption A picture released by Israel's Immigration Authority, showing Mr Lanning with Hamas then-leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in 2012

It added: "Lanning is associated with the leaders of Hamas, which is designated as a terror group across the European Union; a group whose anti-Semitic charter calls for killing all Jews.

"Israel is seeking a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Palestinians. Those who promote extremism should not be allowed to foment their hatred in Israel."

'Draconian'

Ben Jamal, director of the PSC, said Mr Lanning was "the first victim" of the new law and that he believes he is now "permanently barred" from the country.

He added: "If Israel believes that by introducing these draconian undemocratic laws it will intimidate its critics into silence it is mistaken."

Mr Jamal called on the UK government to condemn the ban of a British citizen "whose only crime is to advocate for human rights".

Hugh Lanning was the Labour candidate for Canterbury and Whitstable in the 2015 general election.