Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are denouncing Israel’s decision to block two progressive lawmakers from visiting the country.
Israel’s deputy foreign minister said the government has decided to bar two U.S. Democratic congresswomen who support the international boycott movement from entering the country.
Tzipi Hotovely told Israel Radio in an interview Thursday that “Israel has decided not to allow” Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to visit as planned.
Top ranking Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York said Israel’s decision to block Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who are Muslims, was a sign of weakness instead of strength and “will only hurt the U.S.-Israeli relationship and support for Israel in America.”
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, a top Democratic leader, said the decision by Israel is “outrageous” and “wrong.” He urged Israel to reconsider.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Israel’s decision to deny admission to two Muslim-American congresswomen, calling the snub “beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel.”
Pelosi noted that Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, recently said that Israel would not deny any members of Congress from entering the country. She called the reversal “sad” and “deeply disappointing.”
Tlaib and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. They had planned to visit Jerusalem and the West Bank on a tour organized by a Palestinian organization.
The U.S. envoy to Israel, Ambassador David Friedman, said Thursday in a statement following the Israeli government’s announcement that Israel “has every right to protect its borders” against promoters of boycotts “in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons.”
Friedman said that the movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel “is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State.”
How’s reaction of Ilhan Omar?
Ilhan Omar says Israel’s move to block her and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib from visiting the country is “an insult to democratic values.”
Omar says in a prepared statement that Israel’s move Thursday is the equivalent of President Donald Trump’s effort to block travel to the U.S. from Muslim-dominated countries. And she says denying entry “not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also to enter the Palestinian territories.”
The Minnesota Democrat says the move isn’t a surprise given that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”
How’s reaction of Rashida Tlaib?
Rashida Tlaib says Israel’s move to block her from visiting because of her support for a boycott movement against the country is a “sign of weakness.”
Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, on Thursday tweeted a photo of her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank. She said her grandmother “deserves to live in peace & with human dignity,” and barring her granddaughter from entering “is a sign of weakness” because “the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.”
What did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “is open to all visitors and all criticism,” but will bar entry to two U.S. Democratic congresswomen over their support for boycotts.
Netanyahu’s office issued a statement Thursday saying that based on Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s itinerary for an upcoming visit to the West Bank and Jerusalem, “it became clear that they are planning a trip whose sole purpose was strengthening the boycott and negating the legitimacy of Israel.”
The prime minister said Israel had welcomed 70 Republican and Democratic members of Congress “with open arms,” and that “there’s not a state in the world that respects the United States and the U.S. Congress more than the state of Israel.”
Includes reporting from the Associated Press.