NYT questions what Trump, Israel are 'afraid of' in blocking Omar, Tlaib visit

NYT questions what Trump, Israel are 'afraid of' in blocking Omar, Tlaib visit
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The New York Times editorial board asked Thursday what President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE are "afraid of" after the Israeli government announced it would bar Democratic Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibIsrael should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Jewish Democrats decry Trump's 'loyalty' remarks Poll: Voters split on whether it's acceptable for Israel to deny Omar, Tlaib visas MORE (Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarJewish Democrats decry Trump's 'loyalty' remarks Poll: Voters split on whether it's acceptable for Israel to deny Omar, Tlaib visas Pelosi speaks with Israeli president after Trump controversy MORE (Minn.) from entering the country. 

The board wrote that it was "sad" that the leaders would risk bipartisan support for Israel for "political points."

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"How sad that two leaders — each desperate to look tough to their own bases — are risking a bipartisan relationship built between these two nations over generations," reads the editorial. "To what end? To win a few political points against two of the newest members of Congress? To capture a few news cycles? To dial up the outrage machine just one more notch?"

"Confident leaders would never have risked so much for so little," the Times adds. 

The announcement of the Israeli government's decision followed a tweet by Trump in which he said it would show "great weakness" for Israel to allow the two congresswomen, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, into the country.

The Times's board disagreed with the sentiment, writing "it is blocking entry by two American legislators who are critics of Israel that shows great weakness."

"It has long been Israel’s mantra that critics of its policies should come see for themselves, and the country is certainly strong enough to handle any criticism from two members of Congress," the board wrote. "Mr. Trump has done Israel no favor."

Netanyahu on Thursday defended the decision to bar the lawmakers, which was based on an Israeli law that prevents people who support an Israeli boycott, which the congresswomen have supported, from entering the country. 

“The two-member congressional visitation plan shows that their intent is to hurt Israel and increase its unrest against it,” he said in a statement, adding that Tlaib could file a humanitarian request to meet with her family members in the West Bank.