Reps. Omar & Tlaib Slam Israel in Joint Press Conference
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i24NEWS DESK | US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) held a press conference Monday afternoon to address Israel’s decision to bar them entry into the country last week.
Speaking together in Omar’s hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota in their first public appearance since the trip’s cancellation, Tlaib and Omar accused Netanyahu’s government of bowing to Trump and trying to hide the reality of the Palestinian situation.
Tlaib pointed out that it is common for US lawmakers to visit Israel and meet a wide range of activists.
“What is not a common occurrence,” she explained, “is members of Congress being barred from entering a country on these fact-finding missions unless they agree to strict set of rules.”
The lawmakers in no uncertain terms excoriated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for denying two duly elected members of Congress access to the country while highlighting “the human costs of the occupation and travel restrictions on Palestinians and others.”
“Netanyahu’s decision to deny us entry might be unprecedented for members of Congress, but it is the policy of his government when it comes to Palestinians,” Omar said at the opening of the media event.
“This is the policy of his government when it comes to anyone who holds views that threaten the occupation. A policy that has been [egged] on and supported by (US President Donald) Trump’s administration,” she added.
Referring to the $3 billion in aid the US gives to Israel each year, Omar said, “this is predicated on their being an important ally in the region and the only democracy in the Middle East. But denying a visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally.”
Israel’s Interior Ministry, headed by Aryeh Deri, said its decision to deny access to the two lawmakers was based on their vocal support for the BDS movement, but backtracked, granting Tlaib’s request for an exemption to see her aging 90-year-old grandmother based on “humanitarian” grounds.
But the Michigan representative refused, stating on social media that she wouldn’t travel to see her relative under “oppressive conditions” and that her Palestinian grandmother told her not to visit under the conditions demanded by the Israeli government.
“And so through tears, at 3:00 in the morning, we all decided as a family that I could not go until I was a free United States congresswoman,” she wrote.
“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity [grandmother] to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” Tlaib tweeted Friday.