Ilhan Omar said she hopes Israel votes out Netanyahu

By Matthew Choi

With Israel heading to the polls Tuesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar said Sunday she hoped the country would break from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's agenda and defended her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement.

Speaking with Margaret Brennan on CBS’ “Face the Nation,“ Omar responded to a move last month by the Israeli government to bar Omar from visiting the country over her support for the BDS movement. The Minnesota Democrat and fellow progressive congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) were not permitted to enter Israel after President Donald Trump lobbied Israeli leaders to keep them out — setting off a backlash from both sides of the aisle to a perceived act of disrespect against the U.S. Congress.

"What is really important is for people to understand that you have to give people the opportunity to seek the kind of justice they want in a peaceful way," Omar said. "I think the opportunity to boycott, divest, sanction is the kind of the pressure that leads to that peaceful process."

Omar also said she hoped Israeli voters would see Netanyahu's "existence, his policies, his rhetoric" as "contradictory" to the peace process in the region. She cited a recent campaign promise by Netanyahu to annex large swaths of the West Bank that have been under Israeli control since 1967. The area would include the Jordan River Valley — the bread basket of a proposed Palestinian state and a vital element to proposed two-state solutions.

"For many of us in Congress, there has been a longstanding support for a two-state solution, and this annexation now is going to make sure that that peace process does not happen," Omar said.

The campaign promise comes as Netanyahu struggles to pull ahead of rival Benny Gantz in a re-run of an election held earlier this year that left Netanyahu unable to form a governing coalition. Whoever prevails is expected to have a tough time assembling a coalition of 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Netanyahu has been the prime minister since 2009.