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Netanyahu: Tlaib and Omar delegation banned because ‘sole purpose of trip is to harm Israel’

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave details behind the decision to ban Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering Israel and the West Bank on a Congressional delegation in a statement this afternoon that alleged the trip’s coordinator has terrorism ties and said “the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement.”

Here is the statement in full:

No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel.

As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country. In fact, in the past the US did this to an Israeli member of Knesset, as well as to other public figures from around the world.

Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.

A week ago, Israel warmly welcomed some 70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress, who expressed broad bipartisan support for Israel, which was also demonstrated a month ago in a resounding bipartisan vote against BDS in Congress.

However, the itinerary of the two Congresswomen reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.

In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.

Therefore, the Minister of Interior has decided not to allow their visit, and I, as Prime Minister, support his decision.

Nonetheless, if Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the minister of interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.

While Netanyahu did not expand on the alleged terrorism ties, in 2016, Miftah, the Palestinian public diplomacy group he named, organized a similar Congressional delegation to the West Bank and Jerusalem, bringing five members of the House to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, executives, bankers and educators. The tour included a meeting with Shawan Jabareen, the director of the Palestinian legal rights group Al Haq. The trip came under fire when the Weekly Standard obtained a copy of the itinerary later that same year and identified Jabareen.

Jabareen was sentenced to nine months in an Israeli military prison in the 1980’s for membership in the student arm of the PFLP, a State Department designated terrorist organization. Jabareen, who has said his affiliation with the group ended in his youth, is one of the most renowned Palestinian human rights advocates today, having met with former President Jimmy Carter and spoken at the United Nations offices in Geneva. In recent years he has supported the Palestinian government in its attempts to open an investigation into Israel at the UN’s International Criminal Court.

Netanyahu’s mention of an Israeli official denied entry to the U.S. was an apparent reference to the State Department preventing Israel’s Michael Ben-Ari from entering in 2012 because he was a former member of a terrorist organization, Israel’s Kach movement.

Miftah responded to reports of Tlaib and Omar’s travel ban earlier today, stating the decision was “a clear case of discrimination and hostility based on political views and ethnic background, deserving of moral indignation and unequivocal condemnation in Palestine and the United States.”

While the group did not reveal any of the stops on the itinerary, Aida Touma-Sliman, a Palestinian member of Israel’s Knesset from the Hadash-Ta’al party indicated over social media that she had planned to meet with the delegation.

In the afternoon David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador issued a charged statement accusing Tlaib and Omar of  “no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish state.”

“Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstances present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons,” he said.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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9 Responses

  1. JWalters on August 15, 2019, 6:51 pm

    Correction:

    “No country in the world disrespects and manipulates America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel.”

    • Misterioso on August 16, 2019, 2:50 pm

      @JWalters, et al

      With Netanyahu at the helm and Trump urging him on, “Israel” has sailed into dangerous waters which are only going to get much more turbulent:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/16/opinion/israel-omar-tlaib-netanyahu.html

      “If You Think Trump Is Helping Israel, You’re a Fool” New York Times, August 16/19 by Thomas Friedman.

      “By barring Representatives Omar and Tlaib, Netanyahu made the president happy. But he has poisoned relations with America.”

      EXCERPT:
      “I am going to say this as simply and clearly as I can: If you’re an American Jew and you’re planning on voting for Donald Trump because you think he is pro-Israel, you’re a damn fool.

      “Oh, don’t get me wrong. Trump has said and done many things that are in the interests of the current Israeli government — and have been widely appreciated by the Israeli public. To deny that would be to deny the obvious. But here’s what’s also obvious. Trump’s way of — and motivation for — expressing his affection for Israel is guided by his political desire to improve his re-election chances by depicting the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.

      “As a result, Trump — with the knowing help of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — is doing something no American president and Israeli prime minister have done before: They’re making support for Israel a wedge issue in American politics.

      “Few things are more dangerous to Israel’s long-term interests than its becoming a partisan matter in America, which is Israel’s vital political, military and economic backer in the world.”

  2. DaBakr on August 15, 2019, 11:59 pm

    Wow. Jimmy Carter. What a shock!

  3. Richard Baldwin Cook on August 16, 2019, 8:43 am

    Our Congress is responsible for the humiliation of members of Congress, who are denied entry into Israel.

    Three years ago Congress passed an extraordinary exception to visa requirements for Israelis, who wish to enter the United States.

    The US has a visa-exception arrangement like this with several countries but the no-visa-required privilege is typically, reciprocal.

    The visa exception arrangement Congress has made to accommodate Israelis is not reciprocal for U.S. citizens.

  4. Marnie on August 16, 2019, 10:46 am

    no one can ‘harm’ the zionist state as much as the zionists do every day, with behavior just like this. Fucking crybabies.

  5. edwardm on August 17, 2019, 6:44 pm

    and here I thought BDS was supposed to be ineffectual.
    what a bunch of pantywaists. Brave when it comes to shooting children mind you….

  6. Sulphurdunn on August 18, 2019, 4:32 pm

    There is really nothing more to discuss regarding this matter. If Israel refuses to allow members of the United States Congress to enter its territory, the US should reciprocate and the US government should place America’s New Jersy of the Middle East on a travel ban list.

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