Friday, 20 Sep 2019 - 20 of Elul, 5779

Israel considers barring visit by two pro-BDS US congresswomen

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The U.S. House members, known for their criticism of Israel, affinity for the BDS movement and outright anti-Semitic rhetoric, planned to visit East Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah, meet there with Palestinian Arabs and discuss Israel’s security fence.

 

JERUSALEM—Israel is considering barring a visit by two U.S. Congress, Democrat Representatives  Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who plan to tour the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Israeli media reported.

No date has been formally announced for the trip, but sources familiar with the planned visit said it could begin at the weekend.

According to the report, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has decided to bar Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel.

While the Interior Ministry has not confirmed the report, Israel’s Channel 12 said the decision would soon be publicized, after the entry ban itself is formally drawn up.

The two will be prevented from entering Israel based on law passed by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in 2017 which permits the Interior Ministry to bar supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) from visiting Israel.

The planned visit of the two controversial freshman lawmakers has made headlines in recent days after it was reported that US President Donald Trump was disappointed by Israel’s initial decision not to bar them from coming. Israel’s laws allow border authorities to turn away supporters of the anti-Israel boycott movement.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the matter with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Omar last month introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by Tlaib, ostensibly aimed at pushing back against laws seeking to clamp down on boycotts of Israel. The resolution, which does not explicitly mention Israel or the Palestinians, affirms the right of Americans to participate in boycotts as an expression of free speech under the First Amendment, citing boycott movements against Nazi Germany, the USSR and apartheid South Africa.

Omar, Tlaib and other BDS supporters say that in urging businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel, they are using nonviolent means to oppose ‘’unjust policies toward Palestinians.’’ Israel counters that the movement masks its motivation to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

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