Two Democratic House freshmen who have repeatedly come under criticism for anti-Semitic statements will not be allowed to enter Israel for an upcoming visit, Israeli government officials said Thursday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely confirmed that the country would would deny entry to Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar, Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, Mich., based on their support of the anti-Israel BDS movement.
“Israel has decided — we won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” Hotovely told the Israeli public broadcaster Kan. “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.”
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are both supporters of the anti-Semitic BDS movement to boycott Israel. Tlaib even compared boycotts against Israel to boycotts against Nazi Germany from the House floor last month.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement shortly following the announcement that the pair’s planned visit’s “sole purpose is to strengthen the boycott and delegitimize Israel.” According to to the statement, because Omar and Tlaib billed their visit as a trip to Palestine, rather than Israel, and did not ask to meet with any Israeli officials, their “plan showed they only wanted to harm Israel.”
The move came hours after President 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.”
Israeli law clearly states that people can be denied entry to the country if they or an organization they represent have called for a boycott against the country.
Last month, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. said that Omar and Tlaib would be allowed into the country despite the law “out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America.”
Other Democrats were not happy about the Jewish state’s Thursday decision.
“Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy,” Democratic 2020 hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vt., tweeted.
Another 2020 hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said before the announcement that barring the House freshmen entry “would be a shameful, unprecedented move.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the move “outrageous, regardless of their itinerary or views” and said that the action “reflects weakness, not strength.”
“No democratic society should fear an open debate,” stated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Many strong supporters of Israel will be deeply disappointed in this decision, which the Israeli government should reverse.”