CBS/AP October 15, 2018, 11:38 AM Israel’s Supreme Court halts deportation of American student
JERUSALEM — Israel's Supreme Court on Sunday agreed to hear the appeal of Lara Alqasem, an American graduate student who is fighting an expulsion order over her involvement in the boycott movement against Israel. Alqasem, 22, has been held in detention since arriving in the country on Oct. 2 with a valid student visa.
Her lawyers said she will be allowed to remain in the country pending the Supreme Court appeal, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday. Alqasem turned to the high court after a lower court on Friday rejected her appeal to stay in the country. She will remain in detention pending her appeal, her lawyers said.
Israel said the Florida native, a former boycott activist at the University of Florida, continues to promote the boycott movement against Israel. She has argued that she is no longer active.
More than 300 academics signed a letter in Britain's Guardian newspaper last week calling the case "an attack on academic freedom."
"As professors who are committed to academic freedom, and as humans who reject all forms of racial profiling, we are calling on the Israeli authorities to permit Lara Alqasem to enter Israel and pursue her studies," the letter reads.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his government's handling of the case on Sunday, saying every country has the right to decide who enters its borders. He said it was now in the hands of the court.
"They'll decide whether they handle it or not," he told a gathering of foreign Christian journalists. "If they handle it, we'll see how it will develop, so if they don't handle it, she'll be deported."
Alqasem had been registered to pursue a master's degree in human rights at Israel's Hebrew University. The first day of classes was Sunday.