Omar: Israel’s refusal to allow visit ‘an insult to democratic values’

“This is a country that has just made a huge error, I believe,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, also banned by Israel.

By World Israel News Staff

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar her and another Muslim pro-BDS member of the U.S. House of Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) from entering Israel “an affront.”

Tweeting on Thursday after the Israeli decision was officially announced, Omar charged that “Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected members of Congress.”

She argued that “as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world.”

Omar called the Israeli decision “an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.”

She added that the ban “limits our ability to learn from Israelis.” However, their itinerary included no meetings with Israeli officials.

“This is a country that has just made a huge error, I believe,” Tlaib said in response to the Israeli announcement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the decision, saying that the two congresswomen, who “are leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against Israel in the U.S. Congress,” were “planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycott and to undermine Israel’s legitimacy.”

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The prime minister said that Omar and Tlaib were referring to their visit as a trip to “Palestine,” not Israel, and had not even scheduled any meetings with members of the opposition in the Knesset, in addition to avoiding any contact with representatives of the government.

According to media reports, the only Israeli meeting planned was with Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the leftist NGO B’Tselem, which attacks Israel and the IDF. El-Ad has appeared at the United Nations, taking the Palestinian stand against the Jewish state.

In 2012, a visit by a Knesset delegation to the U.S. was called off by the speaker of the Israeli parliament after the State Department refused to issue an entry visa to right-wing MK Michael Ben-Ari on the grounds that he belonged to a “terrorist organization.”

Netanyahu, in his comments on Thursday explaining the Israeli refusal to allow Omar and Tlaib to enter Israel, said that the group that organized the visit – the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, better known as Miftah – includes members who support terrorism.