Spedding was previously banned from entering the country in 2014 for five years by the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority after reportedly organizing a violent protest at Queens University, Belfast, in which an Israeli representative was attacked.
I’ve just been detained upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport by officials from the border agency. After 3 hours of interrogation they have decided to refuse my entry. This comes after abiding by a 5 year long ban from Israel and following all correct procedures.— Gary Spedding (@GarySpedding) January 14, 2019
I had hoped to meet with Israeli colleagues and civil society to discuss lessons and experience regarding peace building in Northern Ireland. This was meant to be part of a series of meaningful discussions with Israelis and Palestinians.— Gary Spedding (@GarySpedding) January 14, 2019
He also claimed that he had invitations from civil society organizations and had planned to meet members of Knesset “regarding peace-building in Northern Ireland” and that he is not a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.“I wish to put on public record that I am not a member of the BDS movement and do not actively advocate for a boycott of Israel. I support the democratic right of others to boycott, but I do not participate myself,” Spedding said.
I wish to put on public record that I am not a member of the BDS movement and do not actively advocate for a boycott of Israel. I support the democratic right of others to boycott but I do not participate myself.— Gary Spedding (@GarySpedding) January 14, 2019
Spedding describes himself as a cross-party advocate and lobbyist on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UK, Irish and European Parliaments and as an applied peace and conflict research practitioner.In March 2017, Israel passed a law enabling the Interior Ministry to deny entry to those supporting the boycott of Israel.“Whoever continues letting [boycott activists] into Israel exposes Israeli citizens to harm,” said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.Since then, there have been a number of incidents in which activists were barred from the country because of their connections to organizations that are on the Strategic Affairs Ministry’s blacklist of Israel-boycotting organizations.In addition, many activists were stopped and questioned for what they felt were unfairly long amounts of time, including journalist Peter Beinart, who calls to boycott settlements, and Simone Zimmerman, a leader of IfNotNow, which calls for US Jewish organizations to take Israel to task for its continued presence in the West Bank.Most notable, however, was the case of 22-year-old Lara Alqasem, who was denied entry to Israel for over two weeks in October 2018 because of her former presidency of the University of Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine group. Alqasem was finally permitted to enter into Israel following a High Court ruling, and she is now pursuing her graduate studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.