Israeli envoy: Netanyahu will not deny entry to Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib

"Out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel."

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July 20, 2019 21:10
2 minute read.
Israeli envoy: Netanyahu will not deny entry to Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) participates in a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, US, April 10, 2019. (photo credit: JIM BOURG/ REUTERS)

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who announced a new pro-BDS resolution in Congress this week, may enter Israel despite a law which would have prevented her, as well as any supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement, from doing so.

Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer announced Friday evening that "out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel."

While he did not mention anyone by name, it is clear that he was referring to Omar (D-Minnesota, 5th District) and her peer, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan, 13th District), both of whom support the BDS movement and plan to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories soon. Omar announced her trip this Wednesday, saying she "wants to learn" but did not provide any details.

Omar's new "pro-boycott" of Israel resolution in Congress affirms "that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the [US] Constitution."

One government official told The Jerusalem Post that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s National Security Council was reviewing the issue and would offer him recommendations on how to respond.

According to the dry law in Israel that has been on the books for some two years, Omar – whose legislation implicitly calls for the boycott of Israel – could have been denied entry. This law has only been used sporadically since being legislated.

Israel has been gearing up for a possible visit by the two controversial congresswomen for weeks; the Post reported last month that a meeting on the matter was already held in May.


Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar, who is a former diplomat, reacted to Omar’s decision to come to Israel by saying that her visit is an attempt to “improve her relations with Israel supporters in the Democratic Party. It will not work. She should instead come and meet with former MK Haneen Zoabi – and learn how politics based on hate marginalizes you and leaves you forgotten.”

In contrast, MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) attacked Netanyahu for even considering not permitting the congresswomen into the country, saying that the prime minister must let them in.

“After [US President Donald] Trump attacked them [in recent tweets] with racism, Netanyahu is mulling preventing their entrance into Israel,” she said. “Omar and Tlaib represent world public opinion – against the occupation and in favor of Palestinian independence. They will continue to make their voices heard whether they are allowed to enter or not, and Netanyahu will not be able to act like a swan and hide the occupation.”

It is not yet clear whether or when the visits will take place.


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