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Fri Aug 16, 2019, 11:44 PM

What Omar, Tlaib were going to do on their thwarted trip to Jerusalem, West Bank

JTA — By now it seems clear that Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are not going to be visiting Israel or Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

Israel’s government announced Thursday that it would not allow the Democratic congresswomen to make their scheduled visit this weekend because both have declared support for the Israel boycott movement. A controversial 2017 law entitles the state to deny entry to boycott supporters.

Tlaib subsequently requested and was granted entry on humanitarian grounds to visit her grandmother in the West Bank. First she accepted, but hours later rejected the offer.

Explaining the decision to ban the pair, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the lawmakers’ itinerary, which he said “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

Apparently the pair did not have an identical itinerary, however. Omar and her aides on Friday said she had planned to sit with Israeli Knesset members and security officials on Saturday and Sunday, before beginning her joint program with Tlaib. On Friday Omar tweeted that “I planned to hold meetings with members of the Knesset (both Jewish and Arab) along with Israeli security officials.”


In broad strokes, the tentative itinerary — titled “US Congressional Delegation to Palestine” — took Tlaib and Omar through major Palestinian population centers in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and to a string of meetings with Palestinian non-profits and activists, as well as international human rights groups.

The joint program featured no meetings with Israeli officials of any political persuasion, including Arab lawmakers. The plan also did not feature any extended time spent within Israel’s internationally recognized borders. (Neither Omar nor her aides in their comments Friday on her planned meetings with Israelis made any reference to Tlaib meeting Israeli officials.)


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