Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar Reuters

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on Sunday wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in which she argued that Israel is also the homeland of Palestinian Arabs.

Omar also argued that working toward peace in the Middle East means holding everyone involved accountable for actions that undermine the path to peace, including Israel.

In the op-ed, Omar wrote the US should implement “an inclusive foreign policy — one that centers on human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America’s engagement in the world, one that brings our troops home and truly makes military action a last resort. This is a vision that centers on the experiences of the people directly affected by conflict, that takes into account the long-term effects of US engagement in war and that is sincere about our values regardless of short-term political convenience.”

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, she wrote, “US support for Israel has a long history. The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it. Many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors.”

However, continued Omar, “We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians. And without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.”

“A balanced, inclusive approach to the conflict recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples,” she opined, adding, “I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination. This has been official bipartisan US policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the consensus of the Israeli security establishment. As Jim Mattis, who later was President Trump’s defense secretary, said in 2011, ‘The current situation between those two peoples is unsustainable.’”

“Working toward peace in the region,” argued Omar, “also means holding everyone involved accountable for actions that undermine the path to peace — because without justice, there can never be a lasting peace. When I criticize certain Israeli government actions in Gaza or settlements in the West Bank, it is because I believe these actions not only threaten the possibility of peace in the region — they also threaten the United States’ own national security interests.”

“My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution. We need to reinsert this call back into the public debate with urgency. Both parties must come to the table for a final peace deal; violence will not bring us any closer to that day,” she continued.

Omar’s piece follows the controversy she caused recently with remarks deemed to be anti-Semitic.

Omar came under fire after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. She subsequently issued a half-hearted apology before ultimately deleting the controversial tweets.

Omar later caused another uproar when, at a public event, she appeared to refer to domestic support for Israel as “allegiance to a foreign country”.

The remarks led the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives to work on a new resolution condemning anti-Semitism. However, the resolution was watered down to include condemnation of all forms of bigotry after objections from some Democrats. The watered-down version was ultimately approved by an overwhelming majority.

US President Donald Trump condemned Omar’s remarks, saying “she should be ashamed of herself” and calling on her to resign from Congress.

Trump has also been critical of the Democratic party for failing to condemn Omar, suggesting to reporters last week that the Democratic party has become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party.

Former US Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat who later became an Independent, said in an interview on Sunday that the Democratic Party "is not an anti-Jewish party" but that it has members who say anti-Semitic things, while specifically naming Omar.

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