Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:
“In the countless times I’ve traveled to Israel in a personal or official capacity, I’ve learned more about the country and its people. I find that my colleagues in Congress have the same experience and come home with a greater understanding of the challenges facing Israel. We learn about threats to Israel and how Israelis make sacrifices every day to ensure its safety and security. We hear about Israel’s incredible achievements that make it one of our most steadfast allies and partners in the world. And I have met with Palestinian officials and civil society many times to help inform my approach to peacemaking.
“It won’t surprise anybody that I have disagreements with Representative Omar and Tlaib when it comes to Israel. I probably wouldn’t have planned the same trip they did. But as I said to Ambassador Dermer yesterday, it’s a mistake for the Israeli government to bar entry of members of Congress into Israel. If Israel’s government hopes to win the support of American lawmakers across the political spectrum, then this visit could have been an opportunity to share views and make a case for why American support for Israel is so important. Instead, refusing entry to members of Congress looks like Israel closing itself off to criticism and dialogue. This decision will only strengthen the anti-Israel movements and arguments many of us find so troubling, further politicize support for Israel in the United States, and ultimately play right into the hands of Israel’s enemies. If my two colleagues had seen what I’ve seen over the years, I believe they would have come away with valuable new perspectives. Now they won’t have that opportunity, and it’s a real shame.”
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