Dem chairman criticizes freshman Tlaib's planned delegation to West Bank

Dem chairman criticizes freshman Tlaib's planned delegation to West Bank
© Stefani Reynolds

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week criticized freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water Ohio becomes battleground for rival Democratic factions MORE's (D-Mich.) plan to take a congressional delegation to the West Bank.

Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelNYC snafu the latest flub from a broken elections agency Cynthia Nixon backs primary challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney Democrats call on Blinken to set new sexual misconduct policies at State Department MORE (D-N.Y.) told the Al-Monitor newspaper that instead "she ought to listen and learn and open her mind." 

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“Instead of her talking about things, she’s new here, she ought to listen and learn and open her mind and then come to some conclusions,” he said, according to the newspaper, which also reported Engel said he was against the delegation.

“If you’re going to be close-minded and have your views, no one’s going to change her views," he continued. "But I would hope that once you’re elected to Congress, you would at least care to see the other side of the coin.”

Tlaib's planned delegation to the West Bank is meant to be an alternative to the traditional trip for new members of Congress led by the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee. 

A Foreign Affairs Committee Democratic aide noted that Engel does not have any power over whether Tlaib makes the trip. "Chairman Engel plays no role in approving official travel for members who aren’t on the Foreign Affairs Committee," the aide said.

The aide also said that the Al-Monitor article “mischaracterized” Engel’s remarks and that he does not believe Engel has an opinion on whether Tlaib visits the West Bank.

“He’s been on trips that have gone to the West Bank,” the spokesman said. “He meets with Palestinian leaders when he travels to the region. There’s nothing unusual about that.”

Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American member of Congress as well as one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. She supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which encourages a boycott of Israeli organizations in support of Palestinian rights.

Tlaib's office did not respond to a request for comment.

— Updated 4:13 p.m.