Casten Statement on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Decision to Bar Members of Congress from Entering Israel

August 15, 2019
Press Release

Downers Grove, IL – U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) released the following statement in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to deny Representatives Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Ilhan Omar (MN-5) entry into Israel. Last week, Casten traveled to Israel with other Members of Congress to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Casten said, “Last week, I had the privilege to travel to Israel with several dozen of my colleagues. We met with political leaders, soldiers and entrepreneurs. We met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, and Benny Ganz, leader of the Blue & White party. We met Israeli citizens and Palestinian youth. We engaged with people who are passionate and do not always agree but are free to share their disagreements in the public square. In short, we saw a healthy democracy. A democracy that - like our own - is not perfect, but takes pride in its successes and faces its flaws with humility.

“The country I experienced is at odds with the news reports that the Knesset may not allow my colleagues Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to travel to Israel. Representatives Tlaib and Omar are Members of Congress who have both been vocal advocates for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. I don't always agree with them, but I always learn from them. Democracy depends on a healthy exchange of ideas, and it would not be in Israel’s or the United States' best interest for our elected officials to be denied the opportunity for direct dialogue. I oppose Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to block this visit and urge him to reconsider.”