Trump accuses ‘Squad’ of ‘hating Jews’
Israel has decided to bar American Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country on Friday, hours after President Trump tweeted that the women "hate Israel & all Jewish people".
"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," he tweeted.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
Shortly afterwards, Israel had made its decision.
"The decision is not to allow them to enter," Israel's deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel's Reshet Radio, Reuters reported.
According to the New York Post, the reason cited for their ban is reportedly "suspected provocations and promotion of BDS," a reference to the anti-Israel boycott movement, according to the Times of Israel, which cited a report by local Channel 12.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri made the decision to bar the US politicians from entering the country on Friday, according to the report.
The freshman politicians - the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and two of Israel's sharpest critics - have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against the Jewish state.
According to Channel 12, which did not cite a source, the final decision was being drafted and subject to revisions before the move is publicly announced.
Representatives Tlaib of Michigan and Omar of Minnesota planned to tour the flashpoint site of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank, according to Channel 13.
Their trip was planned by Miftah, a non-profit organisation led by Palestinian politician and veteran peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi, according to the Washington Post.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with Mr Deri, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to discuss the matter, the paper reported.
"The possibility exists that Israel will not allow the visit as currently planned," a diplomatic official said earlier Thursday, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity. "The professional and legal teams in the Prime Minister's Office are still studying the material."
An official told the newspaper earlier that if Ms Tlaib, who is of Palestinian heritage, made a special humanitarian request to visit her family in the occupied West Bank, it "would be considered favourably."
Under Israeli law, backers of the BDS movement can be denied entry to the country, but Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer last month said they would be allowed in out of respect for the US-Israeli relationship.
President Trump - who has criticised the congresswomen on Twitter in an apparent effort to cast their hard-left views as the face of the Democratic Party - was unhappy with Israel's original decision not to bar them, according to Channel 13.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has denied that Mr Trump had ever given any kind of directive to the Israelis.
Israel doesn't advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views. This would be a shameful, unprecedented move. I urge Israel’s government to allow @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib entry.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 15, 2019
"The Israeli government can do what they want. It's fake news," Grisham told Axios.
Denying entry to the congresswomen could further strain relations between Netanyahu, who has highlighted his close ties with Mr Trump, and the Democratic leadership in Congress.
This story first appeared in the New York Postand has been republished here with permission.