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Israeli ambassador says Omar and Tlaib will be allowed in country

By Caitlin Oprysko
Omar said the pair are set to visit the country in the coming weeks and has introduced a new resolution supporting the right of Americans to boycott Israel.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, both outspoken critics of Israel and its occupation of the West Bank, will be allowed into the country during a trip there in a few weeks, the Israeli ambassador said Friday, potentially heading off a diplomatic spat.

“Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” said Ron Dermer, Israel’s envoy to the United States.

The freshman Democrats have drawn the ire of pro-Israel politicians — including within the Democratic caucus — over the pair’s support for the the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, known as the BDS movement.

Omar said Wednesday the pair are set to visit the country in the coming weeks, and earlier this week introduced a new resolution supporting the right of Americans to boycott Israel, to counter a separate measure condemning the BDS movement. The boycott movement has been deemed anti-Semitic and hateful by Israel’s defenders.

Had Israel’s government chosen to deny the polarizing lawmakers, it would have come amid a contentious war of words between Omar, Tlaib, their fellow Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, and President Donald Trump that has dragged on for almost a week.

For the past six days, Trump has launched racist attacks against the congresswomen on Twitter and in public comments, calling them anti-Semitic and anti-American, and telling them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could have blocked the visit from the congresswomen based on a sporadically enforced law passed in 2017. But Dermer’s blanket approval for members of Congress appears aimed at averting a diplomatic crisis over the matter.