14:01 GMT12 April 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Last Tuesday, American student Lara Alqasem was detained at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv for allegedly supporting a Palestinian-led boycott campaign opposing the Jewish state. Alqasem has reportedly been active in the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

    The 22-year-old Alqasem, who has Palestinian grandparents, has a valid student visa but was not allowed into Israel because of accusations she supported the boycott. An Israeli court has ordered Alqasem to remain in detention until a final ruling can be made on her appeal to gain entry to the country. Israeli officials have said she is free to return to the United States if she drops her appeal.

    Alqasem was set to study human rights at Israel’s Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is the former president of the University of Florida’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

    The Israeli government is ultimately free to decide who to allow into Israel, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said during a press briefing on Tuesday when asked about the detention of an American student.

    READ MORE: Trump's Envoy Warns Neither Israel Nor Palestine Will Like US Peace Plan

    “We are aware of her case, our embassy is providing consular access as we would to all American citizens,” Nauert said. “We value freedom of expression. Also in cases where people don’t agree with local policy, or even the United States’ policies, ultimately it is up to the government of Israel to decide who it wants to let into the country.”


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