Court to hear Nobel Prize winner’s deportation appeal

State asserts that Irish pro-Palestinian activist Mairead Maguire "took the law into her own hands" when she flew to Israel despite previous orders.

October 4, 2010 02:48
3 minute read.
A Soldier helps Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead

Rachel Corrie 311. (photo credit: IDF)

The state said on Sunday that 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire “took the law into her own hands” when she flew to Israel last week, after having been told she would not be allowed into the country because of deportation orders against her that are in effect until 2020.

The assertion came in the state’s response to an appeal by Maguire to the Supreme Court against a lower court decision handed down on Friday, rejecting her first appeal against the deportation orders.

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The court will convene on Monday to hear the case and is expected to reach a verdict soon afterward.

“The appellant chose to ignore the prohibition imposed on her from entering Israel in accordance with the deportation orders issued against her, and also chose to ignore two letters sent to the organizer of the delegation [of which Maguire was a member] by Foreign Ministry officials making it clear beyond a doubt that her entry to Israel would be refused,” wrote the state’s representative, attorney Hani Ofek.

“Instead, the appellant decided to take the law into her own hands and establish facts on the ground by showing up at Ben-Gurion International Airport, apparently thinking that such an act would give her an advantage and lead to her being allowed to enter Israel, contrary to the law and the deportation orders against her.”

The first deportation order against Maguire was issued on September 30, 2009, after she participated in the voyage of the Arion, a vessel operated by “Free Gaza” that was trying to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. The order was to be in force for 10 years.

In June 2010, a few days after the incident in which Israeli commandos stopped the Mavi Marmara on its way to Gaza, Maguire participated in the voyage of the MV Rachel Corrie, which also tried to break the blockade. She was brought to Israel and issued another deportation order, this one in effect until 2020.

Despite these orders, Maguire intended to co-lead a delegation organized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative to Israel and the West Bank from September 28 to October 6. In February, the organizer of the delegation, Liz Bernstein, informed the government of the planned trip and expressed concern that Maguire would not be allowed to enter the country.

A Foreign Ministry official made it clear that Bernstein was right.

“Ms. Maguire had deliberately chosen to take part in an illegal clash with Israeli authorities when she decided to embark on the so-called ‘Free Gaza’ boat,” the Foreign Ministry wrote. “The expedition had nothing to do with human rights or humanitarian assistance. Rather, it reinforced the iron grip on Gaza by Hamas...

“By disregarding international agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which confer on Israel the responsibility to secure Gaza waters, and by attempting to ram their way through to terrorist-occupied Gaza... The boat’s crew have infringed on Israeli and international law. This unfortunate, self-imposed situation now makes it impossible for us to intervene in favor of changing Ms. Maguire’s legal position in the eyes of Israeli law.”

In July, after the second incident involving the Rachel Corrie, Bernstein again asked the Foreign Ministry to help obtain an entry visa for Maguire. Once again, the ministry refused.

Maguire arrived at Ben-Gurion on September 28 and was immediately barred from entering the country. However, she refused to leave on the next flight and sat down in front of the gangway to the plane.

The case came before the Supreme Court, which ordered the Central District Court to hear her appeal against the deportation. On Thursday, the court rejected her appeal.

However, before Maguire could be deported, she appealed to the Supreme Court against the lower court ruling. In the meantime, she has been held in a special lockup for people who have entered the country illegally and are due to be expelled.

Maguire is represented in her fight to overturn the deportation orders by the Haifa-based Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

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