Australian activists put Palestine travel ban on trial

12:00 Sep 26 2011 Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv

by Sarah Irving
for the The Electronic Intifada

How two 69-year-old women challenged Israel’s restrictions on Welcome to Palestine protest.

In July, a large group of international activists tried to enter Palestine by flying into Israel’s Ben Gurion airport as part of the Welcome to Palestine initiative.

Hundreds of those who tried to challenge Israeli control of Palestine’s frontiers were prevented even from boarding their planes in Europe, as Israeli blacklists were implemented by several airlines. Others were stopped by Israeli border controls at Ben Gurion airport and deported for declaring that they wanted to visit Palestinians in the occupied territories.

But to their own surprise as much as anyone else’s, two Australian women, Sylvia Hale and Vivienne Porzsolt, managed to have their deportation order overturned in an Israeli court. They were among only six participants in Welcome to Palestine who were finally granted admission, the others being Dutch and German activists who “pledged not to participate in violent protest activities,” as Haaretz reported (“Israel to deport pro-Palestinian ‘fly-in’ activists within 48 hours,” 9 July 2011).

But did their case also set a legal precedent for future visitors to Palestine?

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