Israel bans Dem congresswomen from visiting

(CNN) – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said it opposed a move by Israel to bar Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting the country.

They are two of the most vocal critics of Israel in Congress. They have supported the boycott movement against Israel for its policies toward Palestinians and were among few House members to vote against a bipartisan resolution condemning the boycott movement, known as BDS.

Tlaib, the first congresswoman of Palestinian origin, defended her position in an interview with Jake Tapper last month. She said, “I can tell you that all around college campuses, there are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, all different kinds of backgrounds who are pushing back against racist policies in Israel because they see the human rights violations of children being detained. The fact that my grandmother who lives in the West Bank right now doesn’t have equality, doesn’t have freedom of travel.”

The congresswomen were scheduled to arrive Friday night and spend next week meeting with Israeli and Palestinian activists as well as human rights organizations. But an Israeli government official said the trip might not be allowed in its current proposed format, offering no more details about what aspect of the trip concerned Israel.

Organizers of the planned trip say the two wanted to visit the holiest site in Jerusalem, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount. They were also supposed to visit Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Hebron in the West Bank.

The congresswomen have been frequent targets of President Donald Trump who has a very close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump told them last month to “go home.”

Tlaib was born in Michigan while Omar was born in Somalia and is a naturalized US citizen… which changed little for Trump. “I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country,” he said.

The visit by the two congresswomen would have come just after a bipartisan delegation was in Israel, led by pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. That’s a visit the freshmen congresswomen chose to skip.

The stance made by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is notable because it’s an unusual split with the White House’s stance on the issue.

The group has frequently sided with Trump administration policies that have supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

It is known for advocating a staunch alliance between the US and Israel.

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