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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government should end the practice of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, according to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the US Democratic congresswomen recently barred entry to Israel.
Omar and fellow first-year progressive Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) were both recently denied entry to Israel for a planned congressional delegation, on the urging of Donald Trump.
The Israeli government relented on allowing Tlaib, who expressed interest in visiting her aged grandmother, but not for Omar. Tlaib ultimately chose not to make the trip, citing restrictions the Israeli government would have imposed on her freedom of speech.
“My colleague and I are not the only ones who are being denied the right to see for ourselves the reality on the ground on the West Bank,” Omar said. “The Netanyahu government for example is currently trying to deport Omar Shakir, a human rights worker with Human Rights Watch because he has reported on human rights conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. Last year the Netanyahu government refused entry to American citizen Katherine Franke, and my friend Vince Warren who had arrived on a human rights mission. All of these actions have nothing — do nothing to bring us closer to peace. In fact, they do the opposite. They maintain the occupation and prevent a solution to the conflict.
“Fortunately, we in the United States have a constructive role to play. We give Israel more than $3 billion in aid every year. This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region and ‘the only democracy’ in the Middle East. But denying visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally and denying millions of people freedom of movement or expressions or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy,” Omar added. “We must be asking as Israel’s ally the Netanyahu government stop the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land and ensure full rights for Palestinians if we are to give them aid. These are not just my views. These are the views held by the range of experts, peace advocates on this issue.”
Calling for an end to the settlements is a long-standing condition for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
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