A U.S. student who has been detained at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport since the start of October will be allowed into enter the country, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, according to local and global media.
The Supreme Court accepted Alqasem's lawyers' argument that she had ceased her pro-boycott activity in April 2017, and noted that since then she had engaged in Holocaust studies and had been accepted to a post-graduate program at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, which supported her petition.
She turned to the high court Wednesday after a lower court rejected her appeal.
Alqasem's attorneys lauded the high court's ruling as a victory for free speech, academic freedom and the rule of law.
Alqasem's case has touched off debate in Israel over whether democratic values have been compromised by a 2017 law that bars the entry of foreigners who publicly support boycotts over Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.
Alqasem said she was relieved by the court's decision and would speak more later. Yotam Ben Hillel asked. Alqasem purged her social media accounts before coming to Israel.
If so, the justices said, it represented "a radical and risky step that could lead to the crumbling of the foundations upon which Israel's democracy is built".
Alqasem's case drew global attention after she was denied entry by Israel to participate in a Master's program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, on the grounds that she was previously active in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Israel has always insisted that she was not detained or under arrest, and free to return to the USA at any time.
"In this case, denying the applicant's entry does not advance the goal of the law, and it is argued, for example, by the Hebrew University that it harms Israeli academia", it said, going on to criticise the immigration authorities.
Government lawyers, who argued Alqasem's past affiliation with the BDS movement still makes her a threat, said Thursday's ruling undermines Israeli law.
A spokeswoman for the immigration authority said she was released from the holding facility on Thursday evening.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri likewise lamented the court's decision, calling it a national embarrassment. "Would she also have dared in the United States to act against the state while demanding to remain and study in it?" he wrote. "Israel has the right to control its borders, but that right does not give the Interior Ministry unchecked power to turn away anyone it deems unwanted", Ben Hillel and Bechor said in a statement.
"I shall look into how to prevent such a thing happening again".
"Lara's case proves that thought-policing has no place in a democracy", they continued.
Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry, which spearheads the government's efforts to combat the boycott campaign, describes the group as an extremist organization and says BDS aims to delegitimize - or even destroy - Israel.