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17 February 2022

Bindmans LLP sends pre-action letter to Secretary of State regarding Mr Bezalel Smotrich’s return to the UK

3 mins

Bindmans LLP have sent a pre-action letter, on behalf of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, challenging her ongoing failure to refuse entry to the UK to Mr Bezalel Smotrich, and requesting that she applies the non-conducive guidelines when considering his imminent return.

Mr Smotrich is a member of the Israeli Knesset, and leader of the Religious Zionist Party (RZP), a far-right Zionist political party in Israel. Mr Smotrich is widely known for his public offensive and extremist views, particularly in respect of Arab and LGBTQ+ people. He has also advocated a shoot-to-kill policy for the Israeli military when dealing with Palestinian children throwing stones, has made controversial remarks in respect of the segregation of Jewish and Arab people, and is reported as being a key figure behind contentious bills to legalise the annexation of Palestinian land. It is clear that Mr Smotrich has engaged in extremism with regards to both his public commentary and his following of policy at a national level in Israel.

He has recently been on a tour of Jewish communities in the UK and France to rally opposition to the Israeli government’s plans for major reforms of state-controlled Jewish religious services, and has announced that he will return to the UK to complete this campaign.

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt wrote to the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 10 February 2022, requesting that, should Mr Smotrich attempt to re-enter the UK, his entry be prevented, or his entry clearance be revoked on the basis that his presence is non-conducive to the public good. According to official Home Office guidance, this means:

…it is undesirable to admit the person to the UK, based on their character, conduct, or associations because they pose a threat to UK society. This applies to conduct both in the UK and overseas.

In response to Mr Blunt’s letter, the Home Office wrote:

Hateful extremism has no place in our society.

We are working closely with law enforcement, local communities and our international partners to tackle groups and individuals who sow division and hatred.

This response has failed to confirm whether Mr Smotrich would be refused entry, or have any prospective entry clearance to the UK revoked on the basis of the non-conducive framework, despite him clearly satisfying many of the criteria for refusing entry. This is demonstrated by:

  • His engagement in extremism or other unacceptable behaviour
  • His association with individuals involved in terrorism, extremism war, crimes or criminality
  • His frequent incitement of public disorder
  • The fact that if admitted to the UK, Mr Smotrich could unfavourably affect the conduct of foreign policy between the UK and elsewhere

We have requested that the Secretary of State confirms that she will refuse Mr Smotrich entry to the UK on the basis that he satisfies the criteria for the non-conducive grounds set out in the Home Office guidance.

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is represented by Shirin Marker of Bindmans LLP.

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