(August 18, 2019 / JNS) A group of Democratic members of the House of Representatives is considering opening an investigation into the conduct of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman following Israel’s decision to bar Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from entering the country.
The group is also reportedly considering releasing a statement of no confidence in Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer.
According to a report by McClatchy DC news, a senior congressional aide told the site that some 12 Democratic representatives—including Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee—were “reviewing all of our options.”
According to the report, the aide went on to say that “with Dermer, the issue is that there already was a severe lack of trust. But now there is a severe lack of confidence. It is completely unclear that he represents his government, given he has made promises that he has not kept and [that it isn’t] clear if he ever had any chance of keeping.”
Prior to Jerusalem’s decision to bar Tlaib and Omar based on a law allowing Israel’s Interior Ministry to deny entry to pro-boycott activists, Dermer had said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress.
After the initial decision to bar the entry of Tlaib and Omar, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Friday issued entry approval for Tlaib on humanitarian grounds due to her desire to visit her elderly grandmother.
Tlaib signed an agreement that she would not participate in boycott-related activities or promotions while in Israel, but subsequently retracted her agreement, saying that she preferred not to visit her grandmother than to agree not to promote boycotts of Israel.
“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what [my grandmother] wants for me. It would kill a piece of me,” Tlaib said on Twitter. “I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in—fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”
She went on to say that “visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart,” and that she would not “bow down to [Israel’s] oppressive & racist policies.”
Deri responded to her statements on Twitter, writing, “Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother.”
The Democrats expressed anger over Israel’s release of the agreement letter, as well as Omar and Tlaib’s planned itinerary, saying they were items which should have been confidential communications with Israeli officials.
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