by Sara Rubenstein
Will Netanyahu use the 2017 law banning BDS supporters from Israel to block US congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from visiting in August?
Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib hold news conference
A day after introducing a pro-BDS resolution in the House, Dem. US Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) told reporters on Wednesday that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in a few weeks. Omar will be accompanied on the trip by Rashida Tlaib, a fellow Dem. congresswoman (MI) of Palestinian origin, who co-sponsored the bill with Omar.
However, the question that hangs in the airs is whether Omar and Tlaib will be allowed into Israel in light of a 2017 law which allows Israeli officials to ban BDS supporters from entering the country. Omar told the Jewish Insider on Wednesday that the Israeli "occupation of Palestinian territories" will be the main point of the trip. "Everything that I hear points to both sides feeling like there is still an occupation," she said.
Israeli officials have used the controversial law to ban BDS supporters from entering Israel over the past two years. However, since the individuals in questions are American politicians, banning them from Israel is bound to cause an international sensation. Due to the special sensitivity of the issue, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be the one to make the decision in this case whether the congresswomen can enter Israel, according to a Haaretz report on Thursday.
Omar told reporters on Tuesday, that “We are introducing a resolution… to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting. And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”
The resolution that Omar introduced "opposes unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad. " Although the resolution didn't mention Israel or BDS by name, it was introduced in response to resolutions passed in several states that ban business with companies and individuals who back the BDS movement.
Omar and Tlaib were elected as the first Muslim U.S. congresswomen in November and have spoken out repeatedly against Israel and Jews and in support of the BDS movement since they were elected.
Tlaib was quoted by the Jewish Insider as saying, “My city [of Beit Ur al-Fauqa] is so excited that I am possibly going to come to see her next month. She is so happy. And I am going to take my two wonderful boys… and they are going to meet their great grandmother. So I am really, really excited about that.”
Tlaib was widely criticized in May for claiming that her ancestors provided a "safe haven" for Jews after the Holocaust.
“There’s always kind of a calming feeling when I think of the tragedy of the Holocaust,” Tlaib said, “that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, has been wiped out … in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-Holocaust, post-tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that in many ways.”
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