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Ron Dermer: Israel would not deny entry from Omar, Tlaib – American Politics

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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)

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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 (BDS) 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 any Congressman by name, it is clear that he referred to Omar and her peer, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, both of which supported 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 – may 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, and 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 and said he 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 when the visit will take place.


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