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Omar to Introduce Resolution Declaring Support for Anti-Israel BDS Movement

Rep Ilhan Omar speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) will introduce a resolution this week declaring support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to elevate the Palestinian negotiating position vis-a-vis Israel through an international pressure campaign.

“We are introducing a resolution . . . to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

The announcement comes on the same day that the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which Omar sits, plans to vote on another non-binding resolution explicitly condemning the BDS movement as an attempt to “undermine the two state solution” by demanding “concessions of one party alone and encourag[ing] Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure.”

The anti-BDS resolution further notes that the movement’s founder, Omar Bharghouti, has openly dismissed the possibility of reaching any settlement that allows the state of Israel to retain its sovereignty.

Omar is expected to cast the lone vote against the anti-BDS resolution, further highlighting the divide between herself and the panel’s older, more-established lawmakers, who have condemned her comments about Israel in the past.

Representative Elliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the committee’s chairman, accused Omar of “invoking a vile, anti-Semitic slur” earlier this year after she suggested that pro-Israel American lawmakers’ loyalty to the country was suspect. However, he resisted Republican calls to remove Omar from the panel in the wake of her comments.

The House also passed a non-binding resolution in March condemning anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in response to Omar’s suggestions that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins.”

Omar told CBS News’s Gayle King this week that she doesn’t regret the words she used to cast support for Israel as primarily the product of the Israel lobby’s financial influence.

“So you don’t regret your words either?” King asked.

“I do not. But I have gotten the — I am grateful for the opportunity to really learn how my words make people feel and have taken every single opportunity I’ve gotten to make sure that people understood that I apologize for it,” Omar responded.

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