Monday, 16 September, 2019

Israel Approves Tlaib Request to Visit Grandmother

Rep. Ilhan Omar left and Rep. Rashida Tlaib Rep. Ilhan Omar left and Rep. Rashida Tlaib
Patty Aguilar | 16 August, 2019, 17:09

The move comes a day after the Israeli government said it would bar Tlaib and another Democratic congresswoman, who support a Palestinian-led boycott movement over Israel's policies in the Palestinian territories, from entering the country. She called Trump's statements about the two lawmakers "a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President".

Last month, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress, according to the A.P. Now, the Israeli official said the government is opposed to the visit "in its current proposed format".

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country's interior minister had chose to deny entry to Reps.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist., warned that Israel was "treading a perilous path by heeding Donald Trump's provocations and injecting partisan politics into our relations".

The confirmation came hours after prominent Israeli journalist Dana Weiss tweeted that the government had chose to ban the two lawmakers over their "suspected provocations and promotion" of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"But I did speak to people over there", he added.

Many progressive Jewish groups and Jewish leaders have criticized the Israeli government's decision. He said he knew of "no such precedent" for Israel barring an elected American official from entering the country.

Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism - a claim activists deny.

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Tlaib's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

He continued with typical bombast: "They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds".

New Jersey Congressman Tom Malinowski called the decision "disrespectful to Congress" and said during a cross-party congressional trip to Israel last week officials had assured them their colleagues would be allowed to visit.

He said the destination for their trip is Palestine and not Israel and that they did not request to meet with any Israeli officials. "Israel's law prohibits the entry of people who call and act to boycott Israel, as is the case with other democracies that prevent the entry of people whom they see as harming the country". One House Democrat, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, said on Twitter that "no member of Congress" should visit Israel until the decision was reversed.

An itenary the Congresswomen had circulated labeled the trip to "Palestine", one of the names the area has been known as historically, without mentioning "Israel", and both women have made a slew of anti-Israel statements in the past. For years, Democrats avoided such proposals out of fear of being hit with Republican accusations that liberals were "coming to take your guns". "Many strong supporters of Israel will be deeply disappointed in this decision, which the Israeli government should reverse".

The two are the first Muslim women elected to Congress and support a boycott movement against Israel. Several lawmakers expressed alarm at Trump's deviation from traditional diplomatic protocol, saying his interference will only drive a wedge between the longstanding allies and undermine the bipartisan basis for congressional support.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee - the largest such group in the United States which has been criticised by Omar for allegedly bribing legislators to vote for pro-Israel policies - said that while it disagreed with Omar and Tlaib, it believed that every member of Congress should be able to visit Israel. Israel's deputy foreign minister said the government had chose to bar two US Democratic congresswomen who support the worldwide boycott movement from entering the country.

Deri's decision came hours after Tlaib submitted a letter requesting to be permitted to enter despite the ban. Israel's decision, Engel said, would only "further politicize support for Israel in the United States, and ultimately play right into the hands of Israel's enemies". Blocking the visits of two lawmakers appears to be unprecedented. However, the statement also said that "Israel did not choose wisely" when faced with "two less-than-ideal options" and argued that "the costs in the United States of barring the entry of two members of Congress may prove even higher than the alternative".

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