Israeli Supreme Court upholds deportation order on Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire

Monday, October 4, 2010

Israel court upholds deportation of Nobel laureate

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld a deportation order against pro-Palestinian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire.

Maguire, who is 66, has been held in an airport detention facility since arriving last week. Israel banned her from entry because she took part in an attempt to break Israel’s Gaza sea blockade in June.

Court spokeswoman Ayalet Filo said the Supreme Court rejected her appeal.

Maguire’s lawyers called the deportation illegal. Israel countered that she was informed she would not be allowed back into Israel after being expelled following her attempt to run the Gaza blockade on a protest ship.

The high court ruling Monday cleared the way for her deportation.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

JERUSALEM (AP) — An Irish Nobel peace laureate called Israel an “apartheid” state during a deportation hearing before the country’s Supreme Court Monday, prompting a rebuke from a judge who told her to keep her “propaganda” to herself.

Israel has banned Mairead Corrigan Maguire, 66, from entering the country because of her attempt to breach the Gaza naval blockade aboard a vessel in June.

She won the peace prize in 1976 for her efforts to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, but has since turned most of her attention to the Palestinian cause.

Maguire was detained last Tuesday after landing at the airport in Tel Aviv on her way to meet Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. But she appealed the move and asked the Supreme Court to allow her into Israel to join a women’s human rights delegation.

During Monday’s hearing, Maguire called on Israel to cease what she called its “apartheid” policy against the Palestinian people.

“This is no place for propaganda,” Justice Asher Grunis retorted and cut her off. The session ended soon thereafter.

The government opposed a court-proposed compromise that Maguire be allowed to join the delegation for two days and then leave. The court was expected to rule later Monday.

Maguire’s lawyers said they expect her to be deported, a decision that could further tarnish Israel’s image abroad. Interior ministry officials say Maguire knew she would not be allowed into the country but sought to provoke an incident.

Upon entering the courtroom, Maguire said to reporters: “There will be peace in this country, but only after Israel ends apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”

Fellow Nobel laureate Jody Williams of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which sponsored the delegation, said they were unaware of the ban. But earlier in the year, Israel’s Foreign Ministry denied the group’s appeal to ease the ban and let Maguire take part in the delegation that arrived last week.

Maguire has also voiced support for Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, a man widely seen in Israel as a traitor, attended anti-Israel demonstrations in the West Bank and compared the Jewish state’s reported nuclear arsenal to Hitler’s gas chambers.

In 2007, she was wounded at a demonstration against Israel’s West Bank security barrier when a rubber bullet fired by police hit her in the leg.

Israel has banned other pro-Palestinian activists from entering the country, including Jewish-American linguist Noam Chomsky in May. The government later said that was a mistake.

Also Sunday, the group that organized the Turkish flotilla intercepted by Israeli naval commandos on May 31 announced that about 500 activists from various countries in Asia would board ships headed for Gaza in December.

The Turkish IHH charity said they will set off from India by land on Dec. 2, cross Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Syria, then try to reach Gaza by sea on Dec. 27.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists, including an American citizen, were killed in the May 31 clash, setting off an international uproar.

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