The first Somali-American congresswoman has announced plans to visit Israel within the coming weeks to "learn more" about the Palestine-Israeli conflict.
Ilhan Omar, who earlier this year was pressured to apologise for criticising the Israeli lobby in the United States, said on Wednesday she will visit the Palestinian territories and Israel in the next coming weeks.
Her announcement came as she put forward a bill endorsing the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement "affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution".
She and Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib put forward the motion which aims to disempower "unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad".
In the motion, the first two Muslim congresswomen "urge Congress, States, and civil rights leaders from all communities to endeavour to preserve the freedom of advocacy for all by opposing anti-boycott resolutions and legislation."
Whilst BDS in the US has not been outlawed, the movement is highly frowned upon in the country’s political class, marginalising pro-Palestine voices.
In April, Washington barred Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti from entering the country for his boycott of Israel.
The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking put an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.
Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.
But BDS, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.
The peaceful movement operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.
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