Former Jerusalem mayor says he is open to meeting Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar
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Former Jerusalem mayor says he is open to meeting Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

Nir Barkat expresses interest in sitting down with BDS-supporting congresswomen if they are willing to ‘learn and listen,’ but not if they’re just intending on wreaking ‘havoc’

Nir Barkat at a Likud Party event in Tel Aviv on March 25, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Nir Barkat at a Likud Party event in Tel Aviv on March 25, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Knesset member Nir Barkat, a former mayor of Jerusalem, said he would be willing to meet with US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib if they are willing to “learn and listen.”

Both Omar and Tlaib have been intensely critical of Israel and have courted allegations of anti-Semitism from some Jewish Americans.

In an interview, Barkat told the Tel Aviv-based cable news channel i24 on Tuesday that he would be willing to meet with the freshman lawmakers, but not if “they come with their opinion and create propaganda or make havoc in our country.”

“If I would be convinced that they came to listen and learn in how this country works, how Jerusalem works, how our political system works, I would consider it,” the Likud party lawmaker said.

He added that “convincing people that [Israel’s] path is the right path is the high road I think we should take.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., right, listen as US President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Barkat’s comments come several days after Axios reported that President Donald Trump told advisers that he thinks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use Israel’s anti-boycott law to bar Tlaib and Omar from entering. The report cited three unnamed sources familiar with the situation. The White House denied the story.

Tlaib and Omar, supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, reportedly are planning a trip to Israel and the West Bank later this month.

Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said in a statement last month that “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”

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