August 24, 2019
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Israel bars visit by US Muslim lawmakers

Jerusalem, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- The Israeli government said Thursday that it will not allow two US Muslim lawmakers who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to enter the country.

Officials announced the veto shortly after US President Donald Trump publicly urged Israel to bar the visit by Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

"The decision has been made, the decision is not to allow them to enter," Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Reshet Radio.

Omar, a Somali refugee, and Tlaib, the Detroit-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants, made history last year when they became the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Both are outspoken critics of the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel's interior ministry said in a statement that the determination to exclude Tlaib and Omar was reached "after Minister (Aryeh) Deri was convinced that (the visit) was part of boycott activism against Israel."

"The state of Israel respects the US Congress as part of the close alliance between the two countries. But it is inconceivable that Israel would be expected to let into the country those who wish to hurt it, including by means of the visit itself," the ministry said.

Deri remains open to considering a request from Tlaib to visit her relatives in the West Bank "for humanitarian reasons," the statement said.

Confirmation that the congresswomen would be kept out followed a Trump tweet urging Israel to exclude them.

"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!," the US president wrote.

This is not the first time Trump has targeted Tlaib and Omar, who are half of a quartet of first-term Democratic lawmakers known as "The Squad."

Trump has accused the two Muslim women and their colleagues, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, of hating the US, telling them they should "go back" to their own countries, though all but Omar were born in the United States.

The Netanyahu government's decision to bar Omar and Tlaib spurred criticism from the Israeli left.

"Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a US congresswomen," Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List in the Knesset, said.

"@RashidaTlaib didn't even have to land to expose the true face of Israel's occupation," Odeh tweeted.

Nitzan Horowitz, who chairs the Democratic Camp in the Knesset, characterized the ban as a "grave mistake."

"This isn't just a confrontation with the (US) Democratic Party, which has always supported Israel, it's also a more basic issue: Israel is a free and democratic country, and in such a country you don't deal with criticism by entry or exit bans," he wrote on Twitter.

The Israeli ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, said last month that Israel would not deny entry to a member of Congress even if he or she was a BDS advocate.

In 2017, the Knesset passed a bill authorizing the government to prohibited foreigners who support BDS from entering Israel, a measure cited by Netanyahu in defense of Deri's decision.

"Israel is open to all critics and any criticism, with one exception: the law in Israel that prohibits entry to people calling and advocating for boycotting the country, just like in other democracies that bar entry to those who they believe will do harm to their nation," the prime minister said.

While Trump applauded the Israeli government for barring Tlaib and Omar, most of the reaction from Washington was negative.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer - both staunch supporters of Israel - criticized the decision.

AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, likewise found fault with the exclusion of Omar and Tlaib. EFE

aca-jma/dr

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La presión de Trump surte efecto e Israel veta a legisladoras musulmanas

Washington, 15 ago (EFE).- La presión ejercida este jueves por el presidente estadounidense, Donald Trump, a Israel para que prohibiera la entrada de dos congresistas musulmanas, las demócratas Ilhan Omar y Rashida Tlaib, tuvo efecto casi inmediato, ya que el Gobierno israelí las vetó a los pocos minutos.

A pesar de que Jerusalén llevaba estudiando la situación desde hace unos días, la decisión final se produjo escasos minutos después de que Trump dijese por Twitter que sería una "muestra de debilidad" de Israel recibirlas.

"Israel mostraría una gran debilidad si permitiera la visita de las representantes Omar y Tlaib. Odian a Israel y a todo el pueblo judío, y no hay nada que pueda decirse o hacerse para que cambien de opinión", señaló Trump en esa red social.

Pocos después de ese mensaje, el ministro israelí de Interior, Arie Deri, anunció la prohibición de la entrada a ambas miembros de la Cámara de Representantes de EE.UU., en una medida que aseguró que se tomó conjuntamente con el primer ministro en funciones, Benjamín Netanyahu, y el titular de Asuntos Estratégicos, Guilad Erdan.

"La decisión se tomó después de que el ministro Deri se diese cuenta de que se trataba de una actividad de boicot contra Israel y que debía impedir que entrasen, de acuerdo a la Ley Israelí de Entrada", explicó el Ministerio de Interior, que agregó que consideran que las congresistas demócratas usan su visibilidad para "apoyar las organizaciones de Boicot, Desinversión y Sanciones (BDS) que llaman a boicotear a Israel".

En esa línea se mostró Netanyahu, que acusó a Omar y Tlaib de "querer hacer daño a Israel" y defendió que su país "está abierto a recibir críticas" menos cuando se trabaja "para imponer boicots sobre Israel".

La llegada de las dos representantes estadounidenses estaba prevista para este domingo y se esperaba que Tlaib se quedara unos días más en Cisjordania, donde reside su abuela.

Omar calificó de "afrenta" la decisión de Israel de vetarle la entrada junto a Tlaib, quien afirmó que la medida "es una señal de debilidad".

"Es una afrenta que el primer ministro israelí Benjamín Netanyahu, bajo la presión del presidente Trump, negara la entrada a representantes gubernamentales de EE.UU", sentenció Omar.

Por su parte, el líder de los demócratas en el Senado, Chuck Schumer, también criticó la medida adoptada por Netanyahu.

"Solo va a dañar la relación entre EE.UU. e Israel y el apoyo hacia Israel. Ninguna sociedad democrática debería temer un debate abierto. Muchos partidarios de Israel estarán profundamente decepcionados con esta decisión, que el Gobierno israelí debería revertir", apuntó Schumer en un comunicado.

En el mismo sentido se expresó la presidenta de la Cámara Baja, la demócrata Nancy Pelosi, firme defensora de Israel en EE.UU.

"Como alguien que ama Israel, me entristece profundamente la noticia de que Israel haya decidido evitar que miembros del Congreso ingresen al país", destacó en un comunicado.

Incluso el principal grupo de presión proisraelí en EE.UU., el Comité de Asuntos Públicos Estadounidense-Israelí (AIPAC), rechazó la decisión del Ejecutivo de Netanyahu.

"No estamos de acuerdo con el apoyo de las representantes Omar y Tlaib al movimiento BDS contra Israel y contra la paz (...) También creemos que todos los miembros del Congreso deberían poder visitar y experimentar de primera mano a nuestro aliado democrático Israel", opinó el AIPAC en Twitter.

A pesar de la polémica generada, Trump mantuvo su posición y celebró la decisión de Jerusalén.

"Las representantes Omar y Tlaib son la cara del Partido Demócrata, y ellas ODIAN a Israel", tuiteó el mandatario, que ha criticado ampliamente a las congresistas desde su llegada al Congreso estadounidense en noviembre del año pasado.

Omar, nacida en Somalia y representante por Minnesota, y Tlaib, hija de palestinos y congresista por Michigan, han cuestionado a Israel e instado a empresas, artistas y universidades a boicotearlo.

De hecho, Omar estuvo en el centro del debate nacional después de denunciar la influencia política del AIPAC en algunos legisladores estadounidenses.

Sus comentarios resultaron en una resolución bipartidista de la Cámara Baja en marzo contra "el antisemitismo, la islamofobia, el racismo y otras formas de intolerancia".

Esta no es la primera vez que Trump carga contra Omar y Tlaib.

En julio, el presidente acusó a las conocidas como "La brigada" (The squad) - Tlaib, Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez y Ayanna Pressley - de odiar a EE.UU. e Israel, y les urgió a regresar a los lugares de donde vinieron, pese a que tres de ellas nacieron en EE.UU.

Alex Segura Lozano

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