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Israel Has Refused Entry Visa To Two USA Congress Women And Bared Them From Entering Israel Over Their Comments That Targeted The Jews

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Israel is blocking two US Democratic lawmakers, who are prominent critics of the Israeli government, from visiting.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were due to visit the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem next week.

Both have supported the boycott movement against Israel, but Israeli law allows supporters of the campaign to be banned from visiting.

President Trump earlier tweeted it would show “great weakness” if the pair were allowed entry.

Ms. Omar described Israel’s move as “an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation”.

Mr Trump earlier had taken to Twitter to urge that the two lawmakers be blocked from visiting, adding that “they hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds”.

Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib have both been criticized for their stance on Israel – but have denied charges of being anti-Semitic.

Speaking to reporters later on Thursday, Mr Trump said, “I can’t imagine why Israel would let them in.”

Israeli law blocks entrance visas to any foreigner who calls for any type of boycott that targets Israel – either economic, cultural or academic.

The law attempts to suppress the “boycott, divest, sanction” movement, which has drawn growing support across Europe and the US.

Israeli officials had earlier said they would make an exception for the elected US officials, before backtracking.

According to US media, their trip was meant to begin on Sunday, and would include a stop at one of the most sensitive sites in the region – a hilltop plateau in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

They also planned to visit Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron.

Ms Tlaib – the first member of the US Congress of Palestinian descent – was born in Michigan, and Ms Omar is from Minnesota but was born in Somalia.

After the Democratic-led House of Representatives voted against the boycott against Israel movement in July, Ms Tlaib criticized the country as “racist”.

“I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel,” she said.

“It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby,” Ms Omar had tweeted in a reference to the US $100 note, leading to allegations that she was using a negative stereotype for Jews. She later apologized, and said the tweet was meant to criticize lobbyists, not Jews. She also thanked “Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes”.

A statement from the Israeli interior ministry confirming the ban said it was “inconceivable that those who wish to harm the state of Israel while visiting would be granted entry”.

But only last month Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said the two Democrats would be permitted to visit “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America”.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Netanyahu said “there is no country in the world that respects the US and the American Congress more than Israel.”

“However, the itinerary showed that the congress women’s sole intention was to harm Israel.”

The US ambassador to Israel said in a statement that the US “supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry”.

Israel “has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons,” wrote Ambassador David Friedman. (BBC)

 

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