Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), two of Israel’s sharpest critics in Congress, have been barred from entering the country ahead of their proposed visit to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel officials announced Thursday.
Israel decided to ban the freshman lawmakers in response to their support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
BDS seeks to put economic pressure on Israel to recognize the movement’s demands, which include equal rights for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the country’s withdrawal from the occupied territories.
Under Israeli law, supporters of the movement can be denied entry to the country. But Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said last month that Omar and Tlaib would be allowed to visit.
“Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” he said.
Last year, Omar and Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Tlaib, an American of Palestinian heritage, has family in the West Bank. If she made a special humanitarian request to visit her family, it would be considered “favorably,” a senior Israeli government official told The Washington Post.
The two congresswomen have been criticized roundly by Republicans, as well as some members of their own party, for speaking out against America’s relationship with Israel. Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have accused them of being anti-Semitic, though Omar and Tlaib have made clear they take issue with the Israeli government ― not with Jewish people.
Omar and Tlaib have not formally announced a date for their proposed trip. It could begin as early as this weekend, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the planned visit.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.