Trump: Israel shouldn't let Omar, Tlaib visit country

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE on Thursday said Israel should not allow two U.S. congresswomen with whom he has feuded to enter the country for an upcoming trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
 
 
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“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. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!” Trump tweeted.

Shortly after Trump's tweet, reports emerged that Israel would deny entry to the two U.S. congresswomen. It was unclear if the decision came before or after Trump's tweet.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE's government had reportedly been poised to block Tlaib and Omar from entering the country.

The two congresswomen have criticized his government and voted against a nonbinding resolution last month condemning a movement to boycott the Israeli state over its treatment of Palestinians.

A new Israeli law denies entry to the country to people who back such boycotts.

The decision would be a reversal for Israel, which had earlier signaled it would allow the two U.S. lawmakers to enter the country. 

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said last month that the country would not deny entry to any lawmakers “out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America.”

Trump's remarks urging Israel to deny entry to two U.S. lawmakers is all the more notable because congressional leaders in both parties have said that Omar and Tlaib should be allowed to visit Israel.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Stocks move little after record-breaking unemployment claims MORE (Calif.) during a bipartisan congressional visit to Jerusalem said all U.S. lawmakers should be able to visit Israel. He said everyone should be able to "see what we see," during an appearance before reporters. 

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerProcedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House MORE (D-Md.) discussed the visit with Israeli officials Wednesday and urged them to change their decision, according to The Washington Post.

Jeremey Ben-Ami, the president of the pro-Israel group J Street, said that the move to block the House members' visit was "unacceptable and wrong."

"This reported decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu is dangerous, unacceptable and wrong. As sitting Members of Congress representing hundreds of thousands of Americans in their districts, Reps. Omar and Tlaib have the same right as every one of their colleagues to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory," Ben-Ami said in a statement.

"We may disagree with the views that the Members hold on such questions as BDS or with Rep. Tlaib on the two-state solution, but the right approach for a state that values democracy is to welcome criticism and debate, not to shut it down."

Trump has been a steadfast ally of Netanyahu and critic of Tlaib and Omar, who he has repeatedly used as political foils.

The president launched a major controversy earlier this summer when he said Tlaib, Omar and two other congresswomen, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (D-Mass.), should "go back" to where they came from. Three of the women were born in the U.S., and Omar is a refugee from Somalia who came to the U.S. decades ago 

The trip for the two congresswomen has been planned by a nonprofit organization, Miftah, headed by Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi. The trip was set to take them to Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah as well as Jerusalem to meet with civil society groups, humanitarian workers, young people and hospital workers.

Tlaib planned to extend her stay to see her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank.

Omar and Tlaib have both been both vocal critics of Israel and supporters of the international boycott, divest and sanctions movement against the country.

Omar has raised eyebrows with her remarks on Israel, notably saying U.S. lawmakers’ support for the country is “all about the Benjamins.” Omar maintains the remark was meant to highlight the sway pro-Israel lobbying groups hold in Washington, though critics said the comment touched on anti-Semitic tropes.

Updated at 11:11 a.m.