AFRICANGLOBE – Israel has apparently decided to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country on Friday after fierce debates on the contentious matter involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and various ministers, according to a report Thursday.
The reason cited for their ban is reportedly “suspected provocations and promotion of BDS,” a reference to the anti-Israel boycott movement, according to the Times of Israel, which cited a report by local Channel 12.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri made the decision to bar the US lawmakers from entering the country on Friday, according to the report.
The freshman lawmakers — the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and two of Israel’s sharpest critics — have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against the Jewish state.
According to Channel 12, which did not cite a source, the final decision was being drafted and subject to revisions before the move is publicly announced.
Omar (D-Minn.) and Tlaib (D-Mich.) planned to tour the flashpoint site of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank, according to Channel 13.
Their trip was planned by Miftah, a nonprofit organization led by Palestinian lawmaker and veteran peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi.
Netanyahu met Wednesday with Deri, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to discuss the matter, the paper reported.
“The possibility exists that Israel will not allow the visit as currently planned,” a diplomatic official said earlier Thursday, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity. “The professional and legal teams in the Prime Minister’s Office are still studying the material.”
An official told the newspaper earlier that if Tlaib, who is of Palestinian heritage, made a special humanitarian request to visit her family in the occupied West Bank, it “would be considered favorably.”
Under Israeli law, backers of the BDS movement can be denied entry to the country, but Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer last month said they would be allowed in out of respect for the US-Israeli relationship.
President Trump — who has criticized the congresswomen on Twitter in an apparent effort to cast their views as the face of the Democratic Party — was unhappy at Israel’s original decision not to bar them, according to Channel 13.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has denied that Trump had ever given any kind of directive to the Israelis.
“The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news,” Grisham told Axios.
Denying entry to the congresswomen could further strain relations between Netanyahu, who has highlighted his close ties with Trump, and the Democratic leadership in Congress.
By: Yaron Steinbuch
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