The Israeli government reversed its previous decision to allow Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) entrance into the country over their support for an anti-Israel movement.
“Israel has decided – we won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Thursday. “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle this is a very justified decision.”
Omar and Tlaib have been planning to visit the Jewish state over the weekend, but earlier reports revealed that Israeli Interior Minister Ayre Deri made a “final decision” to bar their entry. Yet, that decision was still subject to further review.
Regardless, Democrats were informed on Wednesday that Israel would formally deny entry to the progressive congresswomen, reported The Washington Post. However, a senior Israeli official revealed that Tlaib would likely be allowed in if she made a special humanitarian request to visit her family in in Israel’s West Bank.
The decision comes roughly a month after Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said that “out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”
Omar and Tlaib became America’s first Muslim congresswomen after they won their respective elections in Nov. 2018. They have been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism even prior to taking office.
Accordingly, the two freshman congresswomen have been intensely critical of Israel and have advocated for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to punish the Jewish state by politically and economically depriving the country.
Interestingly, Tlaib waited until weeks after her election to reveal her support for BDS. While speculation that she supported the anti-Israel movement emerged after she urged Congress to cut U.S. military aid to Israel during her congressional run, her stance was not confirmed until she went on the record in Dec. 2018.
The Israeli Knesset passed an anti-BDS law in 2017 that blocks foreign activists from gaining entry into the country, though the law has only been periodically imposed.
The trip was organized by Miftah, a nonprofit organization led by Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi. While the trip’s itinerary was not made public, Israeli officials had been bracing for the possibility that the duo would visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, according to a report by Axios.
Both Israel and Palestinians claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount and is therefore one of the most deeply contested sites in the Middle East.
The trip is scheduled to come only a week after violent protests broke out at the holy site after the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
While critics slammed the decision and accused Israel of denying entry over political views, President Donald Trump commended the reports.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel [and] all Jewish people, [and] 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,” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “They are a disgrace!”
The decision comes after more than 40 House Democrats traveled to Israel last week and another 31 House Republicans are currently touring the country. Omar and Tlaib both refused to go to Israel with the delegation.