Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib denied entry to Israel after Trump plea

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty

JERUSALEM — Israel denied entry two Democratic congresswomen after US President Donald Trump urged Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent the two women from traveling.

Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is originally from Somalia, were due to travel to Israel with a delegation on Sunday. But Israel has confirmed that they will not be permitted to travel.

In an unprecedented move, the US president took to Twitter on Thursday to urge Israel to ban the members of Congress from traveling, arguing that they “hate Israel & all Jewish people.”

“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit,” he wrote.

“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 the office. They are a disgrace!,” he said, referring to the states which elected them to Congress in 2018.

Trump targeted the two women last month, when he controversially told them, and two Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, to “go back” to their countries. All four are American citizens.

Both Tlaib and Omar have been strong critics of Israeli policy in the Middle East and support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BSD) movement that advocates boycotts of Israeli goods.

Under Israeli law, the government can deny visas to foreign nationals who publicly call for any kind of boycott of Israel.

But Israeli officials have been reluctant to invoke the ban against two sitting members of Congress, amid concern that it could hurt US-Israeli relations.

Last month, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said the two congresswomen would be allowed to visit Israel “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America.”

However, this week there were signs from Tel Aviv that the decision was being reviewed by Netanyahu.

As recently as last weekend, House majority leader Steny Hoyer led a 40-strong delegation to Israel organized by the pro-Israel group AIPAC and urged the Israeli government not to ban his colleagues.

Tlaib, a congresswoman who represents an area of Detroit, Michigan, had planned to stay on to visit her grandmother in the West Bank.

Earlier a US Jewish group, the Jewish Democratic Council of America, urged the Netanhayu government not to enact the ban, arguing that it “plays into President Trump’s goal of politicizing support for Israel.”

“As strong supporters of Israel and of the US-Israel relationship, we urge the government of Israel to reject President Trump’s unprecedented and ill-advised recommendation to deny Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib entry into Israel,” the organization said in a statement.