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Frustrating peaceful intentions

Aug 21,2019 - Last updated at Aug 21,2019

What could have been a routine peaceful visit by two US congresswomen to Israel and the West Bank turned into an ugly spectacle after President Donald Trump interfered and persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refuse their entry.

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were thus refused entry to Israel and the West Bank for no legitimate reason other than opposing Trump's political agenda on domestic issues in general and his pro-Israel politics.

In retrospect, Netanyahu did not need much convincing to abort the planned visit by Tlaib and Omar to Israel and the Palestinian territory, but President Trump's interference gave him an added cover to stop the visits.

When Netanyahu decided at the last minute to grant Tlaib a visit to her 90-year-old grandmother in the West Bank, he still imposed so many humiliating conditions on her visit that she finally decided to decline the permission to visit her grandmother.

The two congresswomen know very well how to conduct their visits within the normal diplomatic limits and they did not need any lecturing on how to do so. Basically, Tlaib and Omar were on a fact-finding mission in a desperate attempt to lend support to the peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on reasonable grounds and in accordance with international norms.

All sides stand to benefit from the contributions of the two US lawmakers, yet the Israeli prime minister and President Trump decided to frustrate the peaceful intentions of the two congresswomen.

The biggest loser in this narrative is the cause of peace in the Middle East. The missed opportunity to nurture more balanced relations between the US and Israel will only prolong the search for an equitable resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the aid and support of the US.

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