Non Conducive to Public Good
The Secretary of State for the Home Department has the power to exclude persons from entering the UK where their presence is not conducive to the public good. This is based on their character, conduct in the UK and/or overseas, or associations, which are considered to pose a threat to UK society.
Mr Bezalel 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 pursuance of policy in Israel.
Earlier this year, Mr Smotrich toured 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.
On 10 February 2022, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt wrote to the Secretary of State requesting that any attempts by Mr Smotrich to re-enter the UK be prevented, or his entry clearance be revoked, on the basis that his presence is non-conducive to the public good. In response, whilst recognising that hateful extremism has no place in our society, the Secretary of State failed to confirm what action would be taken in relation to Mr Smotrich.
On 16 February 2022, Bindmans LLP instructed by the ICJP, sent a pre-action letter to the Secretary of State challenging her ongoing failure to refuse entry to the UK to Mr Smotrich, and requesting that she applies the non-conducive guidelines when considering his imminent return.
The Secretary of State has since confirmed that the contents of the pre-action letter has been forwarded to officials and that this material will be considered by them, but the Secretary of State will neither confirm nor deny that they will refuse Mr Smotrich entry to the UK.
Mr Smotrich has since not returned to the UK and the ICJP will continue to monitor the situation.
The ICJP has instructed Shirin Marker of Bindmans LLP.
17 February 2022: British lawyers threaten Home Office with legal action over Smotrich visit (Middle East Monitor)