Note: This post was updated after Israel’s decision was confirmed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will bar Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) from entering Israel over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“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 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely told the country’s public broadcaster.
סגנית שר החוץ ציפי חוטובלי ל-@rbinyamini ו-@YigalGueta על ביקורן המתוכנן של חברות הקונגרס האמריקניות: "ישראל החליטה – לא נאפשר לחברות הקונגרס להיכנס לארץ. אנחנו לא נאפשר למי ששולל את זכות הקיום שלנו בעולם להיכנס למדינה. ברמה העקרונית זאת החלטה נכונה מאוד"#כאןהערב @ReshetBet
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 15, 2019
This month, two congressional delegations arrived in Israel as part of an annual AIPAC-sponsored trip. Omar and Tlaib both declined to attend, but planned their own trip to Palestine, which was supposed to begin on August 17. Their decision attracted increased attention throughout the United States and Israel as it coincided with a national debate over an anti-BDS bill that was introduced in the House. That bill overwhelmingly passed, but Omar and Tlaib voted against it and Omar introduced her own bill to affirm that Americans have the right to boycott foreign countries.
Last month, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer declared that the congress members would be allowed to enter Israel. “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,” he said. On August 10, Axios reported that President Trump had told multiple advisers that Netanyahu should bar Omar and Tlaib over their support for BDS. Trump’s reaction reportedly came after Omar and Tlaib voted against the aforementioned anti-BDS resolution. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham dismissed that report as “fake news.” The report was also denied by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who said, “I do not know of the president being disappointed in that. I speak to the president daily.”
In response to the announcement, Bernie Sanders foreign policy advisor Matt Duss tweeted, “Every Democrat who helped pretend that BDS is a threat requiring Congressional condemnation owns a piece of this.”
Every Democrat who helped pretend that BDS is a threat requiring Congressional condemnation owns a piece of this. https://t.co/uiEaI9k4yf
— Matt Duss (@mattduss) August 15, 2019
Former State Department Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller tweeted, “In barring Omar and Tlaib Netanyahu in a single act creates more publicity and political oxygen than any visit might have; makes an Israeli PM appear to be a tool of a US President; blackens Israel’s image; and erodes bipartisanship critical to US-Israeli relations.”
In barring Omar and Tlaib Netanyahu in a single act creates more publicity and political oxygen than any visit might have; makes an Israeli PM appear to be a tool of a US President; blackens Israel’s image; and erodes bipartisanship critical to US-Israeli relations
— Aaron David Miller (@aarondmiller2) August 15, 2019
Hadash party head Ayman Odeh tweeted, “Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a U.S congresswomen Rashida Tlaib didn’t even have to land to expose the true face of Israel’s occupation.”
Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a U.S congresswomen.@RashidaTlaib didn't even have to land to expose the true face of Israel's occupation.
— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) August 15, 2019
A source has also told the Washington Post that Tlaib (who is the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress) might be allowed to visit her family in the West Bank if she requests permission for a special humanitarian visit.