Politics & Policy

Israel Blocks Omar, Tlaib from Entering Country

From left: Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib hold a news conference on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Israel on Thursday announced that it will deny entry to Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who planned to visit the country, after President Trump warned that the two congresswomen “hate” the Jewish state.

“Israel has decided — we won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said. “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.”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained the decision at length on Twitter, saying the “sole purpose” of the congresswomen’s trip is “to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

“Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress.”

In July, Omar and Tlaib voted with 15 other members of Congress against a resolution that condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to punish Israel’s economy. Omar also introduced her own resolution promoting the BDS movement.

Netanyahu added that the itinerary Omar and Tlaib provided lists their destination as “Palestine” rather than Israel and said they also did not request to meet with any Israeli officials.

Additionally, Miftah, the organization that was funding the trip, supports the BDS movement, and some of its members have supported “terrorism against Israel,” the prime minister said.

Miftah called the move “an affront to the American people” in a statement.

“Like all prolific human rights abusers, Israel wants to impose a blackout on the reality in occupied Palestine and prevent Congresswomen Tlaib, Omar from having direct contact with the Palestinian people, who are subject to Israel’s cruel regime of colonization, oppression, and land grab,” the organization said.

Netanyahu said Israel would consider a humanitarian request from Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, to visit her relatives as long as she pledges not to promote boycotts against Israel during such a visit.

Earlier Thursday, President Trump warned the U.S. ally against admitting Omar and Tlaib into the country.

“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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!”

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