Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Israel grants US Congresswoman entry to country a day after ban

Israel to bar visit by two US congresswomen who support boycott Israel bans US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting its shores; move draws criticism...
Patty Aguilar | 17 August, 2019, 02:24

Tlaib and fellow Democrat lawmaker Ilhan Omar were barred from entering Israel on Thursday over their support forboycotting the country in a Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, who had called Omar's past comments "hurtful" and urged her to retract them, said Netanyahu should reverse his decision, claiming it "does nothing to further the U.S. -Israel relationship".

Many US politicians did not address the controversy at all.

The decision was announced shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted that it would "show great weakness" to allow the congresswomen in. "I think it's disgraceful, the things they said".

The two congresswomen are part of the "squad" of liberal newcomers - all women of colour - whom Trump has labeled as the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for re-election. Though we are talking about two members of Congress with radical and incomprehensibly anti-Israel views, the decision to refuse their entry, which was guided by considerations surrounding the upcoming election, not only goes against our national interest, but also fuels the BDS movement.

However, no members of US Congress had been blocked before now. But they're openly supporting the BDS movement ...

"Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me", she said of her grandmother. "If you openly joined an worldwide movement to destroy the state of Israel, then you'll suffer the consequences". Her grandmother and extended family still live in the village.

At a recent rally in North Carolina, supporters chanted "Send Her Back" after Mr Trump falsely accused Ms Omar of supporting Al Qaeda.

Warren was one of the first 2020 presidential contenders to address the ban on Thursday.

Tlaib and Omar, who fled war-torn Somalia as a child and arrived in the United States as a refugee, are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

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Israel Approves Tlaib Request to Visit Grandmother
On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country's interior minister had chose to deny entry to Reps. He said he knew of "no such precedent " for Israel barring an elected American official from entering the country.

"Vociferous disagreement on issues-yes".

Israel had initially chosen to allow the visit. "This would be a shameful, unprecedented move", she said on Twitter. Open and engaged foreign relations are critical to advancing USA interests. Members speaking out did not hide their disagreements with Omar and Tlaib. "Reversing this decision would demonstrate they understand the risky nature of Trump's racist rhetoric both here at home and around the world".

Democratic presidential hopeful and United States senator Elizabeth Warren condemned Israel's ban against the Congresswomen.

"I can't imagine why Israel would let them in", he added.

The Democrats have also faced accusations of anti-Semitism, which they firmly deny. "I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in - fighting against racism, oppression and injustice", she said.

"Like all prolific human rights abusers, Israel wants to impose a blackout on the reality in occupied Palestine and prevent Congresswomen Tlaib, Omar from having direct contact with the Palestinian people, who are subject to Israel's cruel regime of colonisation, oppression, and land grab", Miftah, the Palestinian group cosponsoring the planned trip, said. Denying entry to elected US officials could further strain relations between Netanyahu, who has highlighted his close ties with Trump in his current re-election campaign, and the Democratic leadership in Congress.

"The president's statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the office of the president", she said on Thursday.

Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old of Puerto Rican ancestry, is the youngest member of the House of Representatives, while Pressley is the first African American elected to Congress from MA. "And every single member of Congress should be calling this out", she tweeted on Thursday. Ayanna Pressley of MA and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY.

Israel often hosts congressional delegations.

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