Donald Trump launched a campaign against Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan on Twitter posting, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed” the women to visit, claiming: “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.”
And now at Trump’s urging, the Israeli government has announced both Omar and Tlaib are banned from entering the country for an upcoming congressional trip.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Israeli website Times of Israel, “Israel has decided. We won’t enable the members of Congress members to enter the country. 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.”
Last month, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress, despite both congresswomen being outspoken about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and support of a boycott against Israel.
However, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri issued a statement later, saying that following consultations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, the decision not to allow Tlaib and Omar to enter the country is because of “their boycott activities against Israel.”
Deri’s statement said, “the state of Israel respects the American Congress, in the framework of the close alliance between the two countries, but it’s unacceptable to allow the entrance to the country of those who wish to harm the state of Israel, especially during their visit.”
Supporters of the boycott movement say it is a non-violent way to protest Israeli policies and call for Palestinian rights. Critics say the movement aims to delegitimize Israel while erasing it from the map, replacing it with a binational state.