UK left-wing activist Gary Spedding barred from entering Israel

The 28-year-old was stopped at Ben Gurion and put on board a return flight to the UK


British left-wing activist Gary Spedding has been denied entry to Israel, five years after he was first banned from entering the country.

The 28-year-old said he was detained at the airport on Monday and informed he would not be allowed entry.

In a Facebook post, Mr Spedding said he had abided by the terms of an earlier five-year ban.

He wrote: “After having followed all stipulations required of me (including not attempting re-entry during the period of my ban). The main reason for my visit is to meet and catch up with Israeli and Palestinian friends and colleagues.”

But Israel’s Ministry of Interior said he had been denied entry because he had not contacted the Israel Embassy in London before travelling to obtain authorisation, Haaretz reported.

But Mr Spedding told the JC he contacted the embassy "well ahead of time to inform them of my travel plans, to coordinate with them to make the trip a success and to seek authorisation for travel".

He was placed on a return flight to the UK.

Mr Spedding was handed a 10-year travel ban to Israel in 2014, when he was a university student. He appealed and had it reduced to five years.

The ban was attributed to his involvement in a March 2011 protest at Queen’s University Belfast, where Israeli law lecturer Solon Solomon had to be rescued by security officers when a seminar he was delivering at the university was disrupted by activists led by Mr Spedding.

But Mr Spedding said Israeli authorities initially said the ban was necessary to prevent him joining demonstrations in Israel.

"It was only after the fact that they changed their story in order to attempt a better sounding justification for my entry refusal and travel ban", he said.

"Queen’s University Belfast made it absolutely clear in the committee of discipline decision that I had not been involved in any violent activity."

Israel has barred entry in recent months to a number of foreign nationals it considers sympathetic to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

US student Lara Alqasem was detained at Ben Gurion Airport for two weeks last autumn before Israel’s Supreme Court halted her detention and allowed her entry to begin a course at Hebrew University.

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