RAMALLAH, The Israeli decision to ban US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Palestine is an outrageous act of hostility against the American people and their representatives, today said Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

"This is a dangerous precedent that defies all diplomatic norms and an assault on the Palestinian people's right to engage with the rest of the world," she said in a statement after Israel has officially decided to ban the two US congresswomen from proceeding with a plan to visit Palestine, which has to go through Israel since Palestine is under Israeli occupation and does not have control over its borders.

"Israel, being the illegal occupying power of Palestine, has no right to impose such a ban on Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar, who wanted to visit Palestine and see, first-hand, the reality of occupation under which Palestinians live. This trip was their right and duty as members of Congress, who oversee US policies and actions that affect Palestine, Israel, and countries worldwide," said Ashrawi.

"Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar were barred from visiting Palestine because of their courageous political positions and principled commitment to universal human rights. Yet, while usurping the Palestinian people's right to welcome visitors in their homeland, Israel is granting AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobby in Washington) the right to fund ideologically-driven and fundamentally biased visits of nearly 80 members of Congress to the region during this week," she said.

"Israel is fittingly acting like any other rogue state engaged in widespread and systematic human rights abuses, wanting to ensure that its violations remain obscured by all means possible, including coercion and censorship. This morally reprehensible course of action reaffirms the true nature of Israel's illegal military domination and occupation of Palestine and it must serve as a wake-up call to all those who continue to blindly defend its illegal occupation regime. Equally reprehensible is the slanderous and fallacious statement made by US President Donald Trump against his own nationals and elected Representatives, which amounts to hateful incitement," the PLO official concluded her statement.

Trump has called on Israel in a tweet to ban entry of the two US congresswomen.

"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit," Trump tweeted, describing the two US lawmakers as "a disgrace!"

The newly-elected Muslim Democratic members of Congress are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and support the global boycott movement against Israel, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

Tlaib was born in Detroit after her parents, former residents of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, immigrated to the US. Omar was born in Somalia and immigrated to the US at a young age and became a naturalized American citizen.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency