Former Israeli Amb. Dan Shapiro was arranging meetings in the Jewish state between U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and ex-Israeli security officials and Jewish and Arab Knesset members before she was barred from the country last week, according to a Wednesday report.
"As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Omar wanted to hold meetings with these security officials and Knesset members," an Israeli congressional source told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
Had Shapiro been able to make the plans final, the meetings would have been along with the formal itineraries planned for visits by Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the source said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that Omar and Tlaib had been barred from visiting Israel because of their support for boycotts over the Jewish state's actions against Palestinians.
Omar was to arrive last Saturday in hopes of holding the meetings before beginning her planned tour of the region, the congressional source told the Times.
Omar's office had asked Shapiro to set up the meetings, though a spokesman for the first-term representative did not comment to the Times about the sessions.
However, Shapiro, who served as ambassador from 2011 to 2017, confirmed that Omar's office had asked him to arrange the meetings.
He said he agreed in order to provide "some balance" to what he believed was her "one-sided" trip itinerary.
"Before the visit was canceled, meetings for her were in the works with Jewish and Arab Members of Knesset, and discussions were underway with security experts to provide briefings," he told the Times.
Now a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, Shapiro said he did not think the sessions would have changed the original intent of the Omar's visit, which was to condemn Israel.
"Even had these meetings taken place, I had no illusions that they would have changed what I understood to be the goals of the trip," he told the Times, "which were primarily to give voice to the delegation's criticisms of Israel and sympathies for Palestinians."
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