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US student Lara Alqasem will be allowed to enter Israel, Supreme Court rules

Alqasem had been detained since 2 October after Israeli officials accused her of supporting boycott movement
Alqasem, who has Palestinian grandparents, appealed her entry refusal in Israeli courts system (AP)

A US student who has been detained at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport since early October will be allowed to enter the country, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, according to local and international media.

Lara Alqasem had been detained since she was denied entry on 2 October, after Israeli officials accused her of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Alqasem, who has Palestinian grandparents, holds a visa to study in Israel and had planned to enrol in a master's programme at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

On Thursday, a day after Alqasem's hearing at the Israeli Supreme Court, the justices ruled she could enter the country, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

"The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law," Alqasem's lawyers said in a statement, as reported by Reuters.

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During her hearing, the Supreme Court justices asked Alqasem's lawyer whether the student supported a boycott of Israel, Haaretz reported.

Yotam Ben Hillel said Alqasem "had explicitly stated at earlier proceedings in the case that she is not a BDS activist" and would not call for a boycott of Israel, the newspaper said.

In March 2017, Israel's parliament passed a law banning the entry of supporters of the BDS movement.

Launched by 170 Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, the BDS movement seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, ensure equal rights for Palestinian citizens of the state, and allow the return of Palestinian refugees.

Shortly after Alqasem was detained, Israel's strategic affairs minister, Gilad Erdan, who has led the country's anti-BDS policy, said he would consider letting her in, but only after she personally disavows BDS.

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