JERUSALEM — A senior Israeli Cabinet minister on Wednesday defended the government’s handling of the case of an American graduate student held in detention at the country’s international airport for the past week over allegations that she promotes a boycott against the Jewish state.
In an interview, Gilad Erdan, who oversees the government’s efforts to counter the Palestinian-led boycott movement, said that Israel has the right to protect itself and decide who enters its borders. He also rejected international criticism of Israel’s handling of the case and said he would not be swayed by criticism in the media.
Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old American citizen with Palestinian grandparents, landed at Ben-Gurion Airport last week with a valid student visa and was registered to study human rights at Israel’s Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But she was barred from entering the country and ordered deported, based on suspicions that she is an activist in the boycott movement.
She has remained in detention while appealing, although Erdan said she is not being held against her will and can leave the country at any time. The more than weeklong detention is the longest anyone has been held in a boycott-related case. Her case is set to be heard at a Tel Aviv court Thursday.
Sovereign nations have every right to say who enters their nation