Monday, October 26, 2020

Israel to ban US Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from upcoming political trip

By The Palestine Monitor - August 16, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [BDS]

In a controversial move, the Israeli government has decided to bar Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to US Congress, from entering Israel-Palestine because of their BDS support.

Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely told Israel’s public broadcaster Kan News on Thursday 15 August, “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle this is a very justified decision”. 

In a Tweet statement that afternoon, Omar said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to ban the two congresswomen was made "under pressure" from US President Donald Trump.

"It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the US government," Omar said.

General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr Mustafa Barghouti told Palestine Monitor, “[the] Israeli decision to ban Tlaib and Omar’s visit proves that Israel is not a democracy, has a racist government and afraid of exposing its human rights violations against Palestinians”.

However, the following day, Israel partially reneged, stating they will allow Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian decent, to visit family in the occupied West Bank on “humanitarian” grounds.

Tlaib made the personal plea after the ban was announced in a letter addressed to Israel’s interior minister, Aryeh Deri, which was approved on Friday 16 August in the morning.

“I would like to request admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa,” Ynet, the online portal for Israel’s largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, quoted Tlaib as saying.

“This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit,” it added.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused the two women of aiming to use their trip to “strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy”.

“For instance, they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel,” he said in a statement.

Israel passed a law in 2017 that allows the government to deport people who support a boycott of Israel or Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The measure, widely condemned as anti-democratic and anti-free speech, was designed to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Israel has used the BDS legislation to block entry to students and activists but also foreign officials, including French parliamentarians and members of the European parliament. It is not clear if a US member of congress has ever been barred before.


Lead image: The Guardian/EPA


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