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Israel Expels Irish Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire speaks to the media as she arrives back at Ireland's Dublin Airport, in June 2010 (file photo)

A well-known international peace activist is persona-non-grata in Israel.

Israel has expelled Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire because she participated in the aid flotilla that tried to break the Gaza blockade four months ago. Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed when Israeli commandos raided the ships, sparking international outrage.

Israel described the flotilla as a provocation, and after the incident, Maguire was deported and barred from entering the country. But she defied the ban, arriving in Israel last week for a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian activists. She was immediately detained at the airport.

Maguire, who is 66, said her visit was not a threat. "I come to support all those who are working for peace and reconciliation," she said.

Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her efforts to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. In recent years, she has turned her attention to the Palestinian cause and has been an outspoken critic of Israel.

At her deportation hearing in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, she infuriated judges by accusing Israel of being an apartheid state.

"There will be peace in this country, I believe it, but only after Israel ends apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people," she stated.

A judge replied that there is no place in the high court for "propaganda."

The court rejected Maguire's petition, saying she "took the law into her own hands" by defying the deportation order. Under the ban, she is not allowed to enter Israel for the next 10 years.