Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is releasing the following statement calling on the Israeli government to reverse course on its decision to bar U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib from visiting the country:
“The United States and Israel have always enjoyed an unbreakable bond based on mutual respect, shared security interests and commitment to democracy and human rights. As a United States Senator, I have worked tirelessly to support Israel by backing the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and accompanying security assistance; blocking financing of terrorist organizations threatening Israel’s security; opposing the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement which only serves to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and by traveling to Israel multiple times to see firsthand the threats Israel faces on a daily basis.
I do not agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to bar entry to two United States Members of Congress – Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. While I acknowledge Israel’s sovereign right to admit or deny entry to any individual, blocking entry to these two United States Representatives undermines an opportunity for increased understanding and a strengthened partnership.
I do not agree with many of Representatives Omar and Tlaib’s statements over the past several months that target the U.S.-Israel relationship. However, they are elected United States Representatives and should be afforded the same respect that all U.S. members of Congress receive when visiting Israel.
The U.S.-Israel relationship has enjoyed longstanding bipartisan support. However, President Trump’s active support for blocking these two Members of Congress smacks of partisanship from this Administration. Allowing such an important bilateral relationship to become compromised by partisan politics only serves to undermine U.S. national security.
Finally, the Israeli government’s decision – taken with President Trump’s support – sends a clear message that political disagreement should be met with what amounts to censorship. These are not the actions of pluralistic democracies that encourage debate and diversity of perspectives. I call on Israel to reconsider its decision and afford these two United States Representatives an opportunity travel to Israel.”