Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) made the following statement after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would not allow Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) entry into Israel:
“It seems that it is not enough for President Donald Trump to fan the flames of racism, xenophobia, and islamophobia here at home. Now, he seeks to sow division in Israel. The President’s meddling in Israel’s affairs, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acquiescence, is both a grave error and a missed opportunity that will have consequences for the future.
“Israel has a strong and vibrant society. Contrary to what the President may believe, healthy cultures like Israel’s thrive with open debate and criticism. I believe the Prime Minister’s decision reflects weakness and short-term political expediency, but am confident that the Israeli public and diaspora communities will not be fooled so easily.
“As a longtime member and the current Chairman of the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have travelled to Israel 18 times. I have also travelled to China, Russia, Armenia, and several African nations with which I have been a vocal critic. Not once have I ever been denied the opportunity to visit these places and meet with government officials and members of the opposition.
“I have expressed my disagreements with my two colleague’s anti-Israel sentiments, but it is nevertheless wrong to deny them entry into Israel. I hope that in the coming days Prime Minister Netanyahu will reconsider his decision and allow my colleagues the opportunity to learn about Israel’s challenges firsthand.
“I remain deeply troubled by President Trump’s continued politicization of the U.S.-Israel relationship. His vindictiveness and pettiness are on full display, and this is deeply regrettable."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.