Lara Alqasem in court
Lara Alqasem in court Miriam Alster/Flash 90

An Israeli court on Friday upheld a ban on Lara Alqasem, a US student who was refused entry to Israel over her support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Alqasem, 22, arrived at the Ben-Gurion airport on October 2 to study for a master's degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but was not allowed to enter under an Israeli law passed in 2017 which bars BDS supporters from entering Israel.

She has been allowed to remain in a room at the airport, choosing to challenge the entry ban rather than fly back to the United States.

In its ruling on Friday, the court said that "any self-respecting state defends its own interests and those of its citizens, and has the right to fight against the actions of a boycott... as well as any attacks on its image."

It rejected Alqasem's appeal against the ban, but did not rule on whether she should be sent home.

Alqasem, who claims to be descended from Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs, served as president of a chapter of the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine while an undergraduate student at the University of Florida.

The group has supported boycott campaigns against Israel.

Alqasem claimed she herself that she does not support BDS, saying that if she did, she "wouldn’t be able to come to Israel as a student."

On Wednesday, when asked about the case, a State Department spokesman said the US supports freedom of expression and is in contact with Alqasem, but also indicated that "Israel is a sovereign nation that can determine who enters."

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Tuesday that Alqasem would be allowed to stay and take her place in university if she publicly denounces the BDS movement.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)