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Pro-Palestinian lawmaker shakes up Israel status quo with seat on foreign affairs panel

A lawmaker supportive of boycotting Israel has joined the House Foreign Affairs Committee, complicating congressional efforts to pass anti-boycott legislation.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) poses with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for a ceremonial ceremonial swearing in picture on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2019.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RC1A408A84A0

Somali-American Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is one of two freshmen Democrats openly embracing the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. On Wednesday she joined the House Foreign Affairs Committee, giving her an unprecedented opportunity to elevate BDS as an issue on the traditionally pro-Israel panel — should she choose to do so.

Regardless of her intentions, Republicans are already using her appointment on the committee to highlight growing divisions on Israel within the Democratic caucus. While Democratic leadership has traditionally sided with Israel, Republicans are eager to highlight Omar as representative of a Democratic base that is increasingly critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

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