Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to block Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country on an upcoming Congressional trip, The Washington Post reports.
Last month, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said Omar and Tlaib would be allowed to visit Israel “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America” after the two congresswomen criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and their undeniable influence over American lawmakers. On Wednesday, Israeli officials “quietly informed” congressional leaders that Netanyahu changed his mind after pressure from President Trump, The Post reported.
Israeli officials told congressional leaders they would announce on Wednesday that Omar and Tlaib would be barred but the decision is now up in the air amid pushback from pro-Israel groups in the United States.
Trump ramps up pressure:
After it was reported that Trump was pressuring the Israeli government to ban the two congresswomen, the president doubled down on Twitter.
“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,” Trump tweeted.
“Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!” he added.
Omar won her district with 78% of the vote. Tlaib won her district with 84% of the vote. Trump won the Electoral College vote by a margin of 77,000 votes in three states while losing the popular vote by millions. A new Fox News poll published Thursday shows his approval rating at a near-record low.
"This is authoritarian behavior," journalist Rania Khalek tweeted in response to the report.
"Israel has been banning critics, including Jewish ones, from entering Israel (& the West Bank) for years," wrote The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald. "Banning US Congress members is yet another new low as this country abandons all but the pretenses of democracy. The Trump Admin urged this but I doubt it took much work."
Ayman Odeh, a prominent Israeli-Arab politician, slammed the reported decision as well.
"Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a U.S. congresswoman," he wrote. "Rashida Tlaib didn't even have to land to expose the true face of Israel's occupation."