With Congress Back in Session, Action Against Israel for Barring Entry to Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib ‘Not Happening’
House Democrats are unlikely to move forward on any declarative action against the Israeli government over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision last month to prevent two sitting congresswomen from entering the country over their support for the BDS movement.
While senior House Democrats and stalwart Israel supporters were quick to condemn and criticize the decision by to bar Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), discussions of a more formal response have floundered as Congress returns from its summer recess.
“I don’t believe at this moment any further action is required,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), told The Algemeiner on Tuesday, Congress’s first full day back in session. Rep. Phillips was one of the members to issue a statement saying he was “appalled” by the decision of the Israeli government, and said he “voiced extreme disappointment” in a meeting with the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC.
Another Democratic member of Congress, who asked to speak on background to speak more freely, bluntly stated that any action is “not happening.”
Following the announcement the controversial congresswomen would not be allowed to enter Israel, senior Democratic representatives discussed issuing a statement of no confidence in Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and opening a general investigation into the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, McClatchy reported last month.
Both Reps. Tlaib and Omar are the first female Muslim members of Congress and Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress. The two planned an August trip to the West Bank and east Jerusalem to examine US policy in the region, but were thwarted at the last minute by Netanyahu’s move.
Netanyahu, in a statement criticizing the congresswomen’s itinerary, said the sole purpose of their trip was to strengthen the BDS movement.
“I think that government is allowed to do whatever they want,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and a member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, told The Algemeiner on Tuesday about his support for the Israeli government’s decision. “And when you look at who was funding that trip, I would have banned them too.”
Netanyahu also criticized one of the main organizers of the trip, MIFTAH, for promoting BDS and supporting terrorism against Israel.
Longtime Israel supporters from the Democratic Party, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-CT), issued blistering condemnations following the Israeli government’s decision, however.
“It was a big mistake for Israel. As a Zionist, I thought it was horrible,” Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), told The Algemeiner on Tuesday, asserting that Israel’s action put it in line with countries like Afghanistan, Russia, China and Iran that have barred members of Congress from entering to engage in oversight of US policy.
“So Israel’s joining those four countries,” he stated. “That’s a very sad day, for me, as someone who loves Israel. Very sad.”