At the urging of President Donald Trump, Isreal is denying entrance of two Democratic congresswomen — Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — who had planned to meet with Palestinian leaders in that Jewish country.
“The decision has been made, the decision is not to allow them to enter,” Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said Israel’s Reshet Bet Radio.
The decision came after Trump tweeted:
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. 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!
Last month, last month, Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to Washington, said that Israel would not deny entry to any United States representatives.
Trump’s move was immediately denounced as “one of the most pronounced violations of democratic norms that he has engaged in since taking office in January 2017.”
Israeli and Jewish leaders said the unprecedented move violates any diplomatic protocol that suggests denying any American official should be denied entry into Israel simply because they are critical of the country.
Republican leaders in Congress are not happy about it either.
Said GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is with a delegation of Republican is Jerusalem:
I feel very secure in this, that anyone who comes with open ears, open eyes and an open mind will walk away with an understanding, just as all these members here do, that this bond is unbreakable. “I think all should come.
Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were scheduled to visit Israel this weekend to visit the West Bank, partly under the auspices of an organization headed by a longtime Palestinian lawmaker, Hanan Ashrawi, that was expected to highlight Palestinian grievances over the Israeli occupation.
The women were planning to visit the West Bank cities of Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem, as well as Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, including a visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque, a hotly contested and volatile holy site, according to Ms. Ashrawi. Most of the delegation was expected to depart on Aug. 22, but Ms. Tlaib had been planning to stay on to visit relatives in the West Bank.
No meetings had been planned with either Israeli or Palestinian officials, other than Ms. Ashrawi, who is also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee. She said the organization she leads, Miftah, was co-sponsoring the visit.
The purpose of the visit, Ms. Ashrawi said, was to give the congresswomen a way “to engage with the Palestinian people directly and to see things on the ground.”
“What are they afraid of?” she said, referring to the Israeli government. “That they might find out things?”