Israel to bar visit by two U.S. congresswomen who support boycott

Israel to bar visit by two U.S. congresswomen who support boycott

The Israeli government officially announced on Thursday it would block the two freshmen Congresswomen - who have been repeatedly targeted by President Donald Trump - from entering the country, a day after reports began surfacing that officials were considering it. Israel partially backtracked on Friday morning, announcing that Tlaib would be allowed into the country to visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the West Bank, on humanitarian grounds. No Israeli institutions or politicians were included on the trip agenda.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman called the trip, supposed to start this weekend, "nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine", referencing the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" movement against Israel over the country's treatment of Palestinians, which Omar and Tlaib have voiced support for. "Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother".

"Israel doesn't advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering USA ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting due to their political views".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said Thursday he would not allow two Democrats, Tlaib, of MI, and fellow Congress member Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, to make a planned trip to Israel.

The decision to ban the congresswomen could further sharpen divisions among US Democrats over Israel ahead of the 2020 elections. "I understand both sides of the story here", Graham said in an interview with local USA television station WLTX on Thursday.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the decision to ban Omar and Tlaib was "discriminatory" and harmed worldwide diplomacy.

In addition to his comments on MSNBC, Sanders, who is Jewish, released an online video to push back against the specific claim made by President Trump and many others that to criticize the policies of the Israeli government is to be anti-Semitic - a charge he said is "disgusting". She said it is in keeping with a policy of denying entry to those who advocate boycotts of Israel.

"If Rashida's visit to her homeland is under conditions, we reject that", he said. "The subsequent decision to grant Congresswoman Tlaib entry to Israel on humanitarian grounds is the right and necessary step toward lessening the flames sparked by Netanyahu in Israel-US relations".

"It would show great weakness" for Israel to allow them in, he wrote on Twitter.

"Trump's constant attacks on Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib are no secret to Israeli leadership", he tweeted. Ali Abunimah, a prominent Palestinian activist, tweeted that Tlaib should have used her platform to highlight Israel's restrictions "instead of writing that humiliating letter asking the occupier to treat her as an exception in exchange for abiding by its 'restrictions"'. The staunchly pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee also said the two lawmakers should be allowed to visit. Democratic leaders have pushed back, reiterating the party's strong support for Israel, in part to protect representatives from more conservative districts.

For Israel, the willingness to side so pointedly with Trump marks a deeper foray into America's bitterly polarized politics and risks its relationship with Congress. She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. Ayanna Pressley of MA and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY.

Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old of Puerto Rican ancestry, is the youngest member of the House of Representatives, while Pressley is the first African American elected to Congress from MA.

Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday that the decision to ban members of Congress from Israel "harms [international] diplomacy". "Sadly, I can not move forward w scheduling any visits to Israel until all members of Congress are allowed", she tweeted.

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