Israel has decided to bar a planned visit from U.S. Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. “The decision has been made, the decision is not to allow them to enter,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel’s Reshet Radio on Thursday.
The decision came shortly after President Trump warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that admitting the two “would show great weakness.” The Washington Post previously reported Netanyahu had decided on the ban based on a recent Israeli law that denies entry visas to foreign nationals who publicly back or call for any kind of boycott against Israel or its West Bank settlements.
In comments tweeted shortly after the news broke, Netanyahu wrote: “No country in the world respects the U.S. and the U.S. Congress” like Israel. “As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any critic and criticism, with one exception: Israel’s law prohibits the entry of people who call and operate to boycott Israel.”
He added that Tlaib and Omar’s decision to be “leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against against Israel in the U.S. Congress” and define their visit destination as “Palestine” rather than “Israel” prompted his administration to bar their trip. “That is why the interior minister decided not to allow their visit, and I, as the prime minister, backed his decision,” he added. “However, if Congresswoman Talib filed a humanitarian request to meet her family members, subject to a commitment that she would not act to promote the boycotts against Israel, the interior minister announced he would consider this request.”