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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has criticized Israel’s decision to deny her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) entry into the country, accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of conceding to pressure and insulting “democratic values.”
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government,” Omar said in her statement on Aug. 15.
“Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress. Denying entry into Israel not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also to enter the Palestinian territories,” she continued, referring to Trump’s temporary travel ban on Muslim majority countries.
It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/v00ESmehXT
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) August 15, 2019
Netanyahu said in a statement on Aug. 15 that the country’s Minister of Interior had decided to bar entry to the two congresswomen, who have been outspoken about their disdain toward Israel, stating that their itinerary “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”
“As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country,” Netanyahu wrote in the statement.
Omar and Tlaib, the only Muslim members in Congress, have been accused of perpetuating antisemitic narratives—saying the country is “occupying” Palestine—and support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at cutting off money for Israel.
In her statement, Omar said the decision was not a surprise due to Netanyahu’s past comments. She accused him of resisting “peace efforts,” restricting “the freedom of movement of Palestinians,” limiting “public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation,” and aligning “himself with Donald Trump.”
She added that as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she is required to “conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world.”
“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation,” she said.
Netanyahu said in his statement that the itinerary they received from Omar and Tlaib showed that their “sole objective” of visiting the majority Jewish nation “is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy.”
“Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy,” the Israeli prime minister said.
“For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition,” he added.