Israel bans entry of Congresswomen
August 23, 2019
Israel has decided to bar two Muslim pro-BDS members of Congress from entering Israel over fears of provocation that they would cause and their unwillingness to coordinate with Israeli authorities, according to multiple reports.
Officials had reportedly been examining the official wording of the decision with legal authorities. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced the decision late Thursday afternoon.
According to a press statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan explained that “the State of Israel respects the U.S. Congress, as part of the close alliance, but it is inconceivable that anyone who wishes to harm the State of Israel will be allowed” to visit.
“Israel has decided. We won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Kan News. “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle, this is a very justified decision.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) were expected to arrive in Israel at the end of the week. Reportedly, they have been coordinating their visit with Palestinian figures.
Israeli law bars entry into the country of those who support a boycott of the Jewish State. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared inclined to allow Omar and Tlaib to visit following pressure from leading figures in the U.S. Democratic Party.
The decision to bar reflects Israel’s concern over potential incitement on the part of the two congresswomen while they are in Israel or the Palestinian-administered territories.
In a turn of events, Deri approved Tlaib’s request to pay a visit on humanitarian grounds to see her grandmother on the condition that she pledge not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.
Tlaib then decided not to go because it would ‘kill a piece of me.”
On Friday, Tlaib’s Twitter message said that “silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri reacted by saying that “apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother.”