August 15, 2019, New York – In response to Israel’s announcement that it would not allow two sitting members of the United States Congress to travel to Palestine, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
The Center for Constitutional Rights condemns Israel’s decision to bar United States Congress members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from traveling to Palestine. This decision, a violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, once again exposes Israel’s ongoing efforts to exclude Palestinians from their homeland and to repress human rights activism. Representatives Tlaib and Omar sought to meet with Palestinians living under Israel’s prolonged, belligerent military occupation, including Rep. Tlaib’s own family. Under international humanitarian law, the occupying power is prohibited from exercising any administrative powers in a way that is contrary to the interests and safety of the Palestinians, a protected population under international law, and instead in service of its own political ends. Over its more than 70-year occupation, Israel has routinely violated its obligations with impunity.
To uphold its control over Palestinians’ lives, Israel maintains a Kafkaesque administration of population registries and control over border entries, both in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and Gaza. In addition to routinely denying entry to Palestinians, Israel has also denied entry to Arabs and Muslims, educators, and human rights defenders traveling to witness Israel’s occupation. Its draconian anti-BDS law prohibits entry to any non-citizen who publicly calls for boycotting Israel or its illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.
Palestinians have the right to advocate for and protect their own rights through meetings with foreign officials -- including members of Congress. They also have the right to meet with their families, travel, access education and health care, and pursue their livelihoods, as well as the right to freedom and self-determination. Denying the entry and visit of Representatives Omar and Tlaib strips Palestinians of their rights and has severe implications for the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide.
Trump’s support for this egregious ban comes as no surprise in light of his own unlawful and discriminatory exclusion of those he deems “unwanted” – from Muslims, to dissenters, to asylum seekers and immigrants who don't align with his ideology of white supremacy. The United States government, and the president, have an obligation to intervene against Israeli discrimination against U.S. citizens, rather than enable and encourage it. The Center for Constitutional Rights calls on Congress to hold Israel accountable for its mistreatment of U.S. citizens, as well as Palestinians. We stand in solidarity with Representatives Omar and Tlaib and the Palestinian people in decrying the antidemocratic actions of Israel and its U.S. apologists, and in supporting the Palestinian people to achieve a free and dignified reality in their homeland.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.