(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Israel PM says US Congresswomen Barred over Boycott Calls

President Tweets Support

August 15, 2019 - 12:24 pm
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JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on Israel's decision to bar two U.S. Democratic congresswomen from visiting (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel "is open to all visitors and all criticism," but will bar entry to two U.S. Democratic congresswomen over their support for boycotts.

Netanyahu's office issued a statement Thursday saying that based on Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar's itinerary for an upcoming visit to the West Bank and Jerusalem, "it became clear that they are planning a trip whose sole purpose was strengthening the boycott and negating the legitimacy of Israel."

The prime minister said Israel had welcomed 70 Republican and Democratic members of Congress "with open arms," and that "there's not a state in the world that respects the United States and the U.S. Congress more than the state of Israel."

The decision was announced shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted that it would "show great weakness" to allow the congresswomen in.

Tlaib and Omar are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, and have been the subject of repeated attacks by Trump in recent weeks, including a series of racist tweets last month.

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6:10 p.m.

Israel's deputy foreign minister says the government has decided to bar two U.S. Democratic congresswomen who support the international boycott movement from entering the country.

Tzipi Hotovely told Israel Radio in an interview Thursday that "Israel has decided not to allow" Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to visit as planned.

She says it is in keeping with a policy of denying entry to those who advocate boycotts of Israel.

Her remarks came shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted that "it would show great weakness" if Israel allowed them in.

The two newly-elected Muslim members of Congress are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Tlaib's family immigrated to the United States from the West Bank.

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5:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Israel should bar two Democratic U.S. congresswomen from visiting the country.

Israel's prime minister and other top officials were meeting to reevaluate the decision to allow Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan to visit next week. Both are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and support a boycott of Israel.

Trump tweeted Thursday: "It would show great weakness if Israel allowed" the Americans to visit, claiming: "They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds."

Trump has spent weeks now criticizing the members, including sending racist tweets.

The Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, had said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress.

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12:25 p.m.

Israel's prime minister is holding consultations with senior ministers and aides to reevaluate the decision to allow two Democratic Congresswomen to enter the country next week.

A government official said Thursday that Benjamin Netanyahu was holding consultations about the upcoming visit of Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and that "there is a possibility that Israel will not allow the visit in its current proposed format." The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Muslim members of Congress are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and advocates of a boycott against the country. Tlaib's family immigrated to the U.S. from the West Bank.

Last month, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress.

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