Jerusalem, August 15: Israel said Thursday it will bar a planned visit by two US congresswomen who have supported a boycott of the country over its treatment of Palestinians, a decision in line with President Donald Trump's urgings. Israel's interior ministry announced the decision against Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and said it was in accordance with a law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged their itinerary showed they intended to seek to strengthen the boycott against Israel. "As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any critic and criticism, with one exception," Netanyahu said in a statement. Donald Trump Sends Signed Map to Benjamin Netanyahu Showing Golan Heights as Part of Israel.
"Israel's law prohibits the entry of people who call and act to boycott Israel, as is the case with other democracies that prevent the entry of people whom they see as harming the country." Omar and Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, were expected to arrive in Israel at the weekend for a visit that would take them to the Palestinian territories.
Israeli officials said they would consider a separate humanitarian request from Tlaib to visit family members. Israel announced its decision shortly after Trump called on the country to bar the Democratic congresswomen who are among his sharpest critics.
"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit," Trump wrote on Twitter. Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called Israel's decision "an outrageous act of hostility against the American people and their representatives".
"This is a dangerous precedent that defies all diplomatic norms and an assault on the Palestinian people's right to engage with the rest of the world," she said in a statement.