Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) will be blocked from entering Israel, according to multiple reports Thursday.
Congressional Democrats were informed Wednesday night that the two would be barred from entering, though it was not immediately clear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will follow through with it, according to the Washington Post. A senior Israeli official told the Post that the proposal for the upcoming trip — where Omar and Tlaib are expected to visit Israel and Palestinian territories — would likely be blocked in its current form. But the official said if Tlaib, a Palestinian American, requested to visit family on the West Bank it would be “considered favorably.”
An Israeli official confirmed the decision to an Israeli radio station.
“We will not permit someone who negates our right of existence in the world to enter the country,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said, according to NBC. “As a matter of principle, this decision is very correct.”
The decision comes just after President Trump tweeted Thursday morning that it would should “great weakness” if the country allowed the two congresswomen to enter, proclaiming Omar and Tlaib both “hate Israel and all Jewish people.”
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
According to the New York Times Times, Trump was privately pushing Netanyahu last week to bar the lawmakers’ entry. Trump has spent weeks lobbing racist and Islamophobic insults at the two lawmakers, alongside two other congresswomen of color. Trump and Netanyahu maintain a particularly close relationship, one that was strengthened significantly after Trump agreed to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a strong sticking point for evangelical member of his base. Netanyahu even named a fake town after Trump for his support of Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights.
Netanyahu has received private warnings from Democrats and some pro-Israel groups about the optics of blocking a sitting member of Congress from entering the country.
Israel recently passed a law that blocks foreign supporters of the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) from entering Israel. Both Tlaib and Omar are vocal supporters of the movement, which is designed to shed light on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The two lawmakers were planning to arrive in the country on Sunday to tour the West Bank with an organization run by Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi.
Given the congresswomen’s views, the visit was expected to highlight the detriments of Israel’s occupation of the region. The pair planned to visit several West Bank cities, East Jerusalem and a controversial holy site. Tlaib planned to stay longer than Omar to visit relatives on the West Bank.