In an unusual move, three former Israeli ambassadors have filed a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday, asking it prevent the state from deporting a known activist with the BDS movement.

Alon Liel, Ilan Baruch and Eli Bar-Navi have asked the court to intervene on behalf of Omar Shakir, a BDS activist who has been in Israel for several years with a visa he obtained via the international NGO Human Rights Watch, of which Shakir is Israel and Palestine director.

Last year, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan decided against extending Shakir’s visa. The decision was made after the two were presented with evidence of Shakir’s anti-Israel activities.

A U.S. citizen, Shakir was ordered to leave Israel earlier this year and has been fighting the deportation order in various courts.

Baruch, Liel and Bar-Navi are veteran members of the Israeli foreign service. All three have served in senior diplomatic positions, including as ambassadors to key countries.

In the past, they were able to torpedo the appointment of Dani Dayan—now the Israeli consul in New York—as Israel’s ambassador to Brazil because he headed the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

In their petition, the three argued that “the deportation of Mr. Shakir will sent a message of intolerance and disrespect for the positions held by most of the liberal democratic states, and will place it [Israel] alongside a host of countries, such as Egypt, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea, which do not allow Human Rights Watch to operate freely on their soil. This will deal a massive, perhaps even an irrevocable blow to Israel’s image as a democratic state, which is one of its biggest assets.”

Erdan, whose ministry heads Israel’s battle against the BDS movement, rejected the claim.

“It is sad and shameful that those who were appointed to represent Israel and defend its positions worldwide are helping a key BDS activist,” he said. “The BDS movement is anti-Semitic.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.