Democratic US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib sharply criticized Israel on Monday for denying them entry to the country and called on fellow members of Congress to visit while they cannot.
Omar, of Minnesota, suggested President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were suppressing the congresswomen’s ability to carry out their oversight role.
Omar said at a news conference:
I would encourage my colleagues to visit, meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear. We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us.
At Trump’s urging, Israel denied entry to Congress’s first two Muslim women over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement. Tlaib and Omar, who had planned to visit Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a tour organized by a Palestinian group, are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Tlaib, of Michigan, and Omar were joined Monday by Minnesota residents who said they had been directly affected by travel restrictions in the past.
Before Israel’s decision, Trump tweeted it would be a show of weakness to allow the two representatives in. Israel controls entry and exit to the occupied West Bank.
Tlaib and Omar support boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, a Palestinian-led global movement. Supporters say the movement is a nonviolent way of protesting Israel’s military rule over the occupied territories, but Israel says it aims to delegitimize the state and eventually wipe it off the map.
Last week, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Tlaib had requested and been granted permission to enter the occupied West Bank to see her aging grandmother. Deri’s office released a letter that it said was from Tlaib, which promised to respect travel restrictions during her visit. But after the announcement, Tlaib tweeted she would not allow Israel to use her love for her grandmother to force her to bow down to their oppressive and racist policies.
The announcement prompted #MyPalestinianSitty to trend online, with Palestinians and others sharing stories of their grandmothers’ resilience.
The two congresswomen are part of the squad of liberal newcomers all women of color whom Trump has labeled as the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for re-election.
Source: Palestine Chronicle