Ilhan Omar calls on Israelis to vote Netanyahu out of office

Democratic congresswoman says she hopes voters in Israel ‘make a different decision,’ castigates PM for West Bank annexation pledges

In this photo taken on July 18, 2019, US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks on stage during a town hall meeting at  Sabathani Community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Kerem Yucel / AFP)
In this photo taken on July 18, 2019, US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks on stage during a town hall meeting at Sabathani Community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Kerem Yucel / AFP)

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota called on Israelis to vote against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview broadcast Sunday by CBS News.

Israel is holding its second election in under five months on Tuesday, with Netanyahu battling for his political survival after he failed to form a governing coalition after national elections in April.

Omar is a strident critic of Israel and a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state.

“I certainly hope that the people of Israel make a different decision. And my hope is that they recognize that his existence, his policies, his rhetoric really is contradictory to the peace that we are all hoping that that region receives and receives soon,” Omar said of Netanyahu.

In an apparent reference to Netanyahu’s recent pledges to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, Omar said: “Just right now if you look at the annexation that’s taking place, for many of us in Congress there has been longstanding support for its two state solution and this annexation now is going to make sure that that peace process does not happen, and we will not get to a two state solution.”

She also reiterated her support for BDS.

“I think what is really important is for people to understand that you have to give people the opportunity to seek the kind of justice they want in a peaceful way. And I think the opportunity to boycott, divest, sanction is the kind of pressure that leads to that peaceful process,” she said.

Omar and Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib — the first two Muslim women elected to Congress — were denied entry to Israel last month under a 2017 law allowing Israel to ban supporters of the boycott movement. Israel announced the move hours after US President Donald Trump tweeted that the Jewish state would be showing weakness if it gave them permission to come. Israel had previously granted Omar and Tlaib permission to enter in principle.

Tlaib and Omar are both known supporters of BDS, a campaign that seeks to force Israel through economic pressure and social and cultural ostracism to dismantle its military presence in the West Bank. Supporters say the movement is a nonviolent way of protesting Israel’s 52-year military rule over the Palestinians, but Israel says it aims to delegitimize the state’s existence.

Omar at the time called the decision to ban her “nothing less than an attempt to suppress our ability to carry out our mission as elected officials,” claiming that while the decision by Netanyahu had been “unprecedented,” it was standard policy toward Palestinians “and those who hold views that threaten the occupation.”

The decision to ban the congresswomen was harshly criticized by some US lawmakers and Jewish groups.

The two congresswomen are part of the “squad” of liberal newcomers — all women of color — whom Trump has attacked and labeled as the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for re-election.

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