Trump urged Israel to ban 'Squad' members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country

Benjamin Netanyahu Donald TrumpIsrael Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald TrumpGetty Images/Pool

  • President Donald Trump publicly urged the Israeli government to bar Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country on Thursday shortly before the Israeli government barred the lawmakers. 
  • "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," Trump tweeted.
  • Israel passed a law in 2017 allowing it to deny entry to foreign nationals who publicly support any boycott of the Jewish state or its West Bank settlements.
  • "We will not allow the congresswomen to enter the country. We will not allow anyone who denies our right to exist in the world to enter the country. In principle, this is a very correct decision," Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Thursday. 
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President Donald Trump publicly urged the Israeli government to bar Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country on Thursday shortly before the Israeli government barred the lawmakers. 

"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," Trump tweeted. "Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!"  

Trump's move is an extraordinary break from precedent and an aggressive attempt to influence a foreign ally and hurt a political opponent. 

Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress, planned to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories beginning on Sunday. 

The Israeli government is reportedly concerned with Omar and Tlaib's support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to punish Israel over its treatment of the Palestinian people, an Israeli broadcaster reported Thursday morning. Israel passed a law in 2017 allowing it to deny entry to foreign nationals who publicly support any boycott of the Jewish state or its West Bank settlements.

"We will not allow the congresswomen to enter the country. We will not allow anyone who denies our right to exist in the world to enter the country. In principle, this is a very correct decision," Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Thursday

Read more: Israel bars Democratic lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country

The decision is a reversal of the Israeli administration's previous position on the issue. Last month, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said the country wouldn't bar any American lawmakers from entering "out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America."

President Trump has repeatedly attacked the two progressive lawmakers, labeled them anti-Semitic, and told them to "go back" to the countries they came from - comments widely denounced as racist. Tlaib was born in the US, and Omar is a naturalized US citizen.

Trump reportedly told advisers that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bar Omar and Tlaib from entering the country. The White House denied the report at the time. 

Trump's move will likely be met with significant opposition, including from within his own party.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, told reporters in Jerusalem on Sunday that he thinks "all should come" to Israel. 

"I feel very secure in this, that anyone who comes with open ears, open eyes and an open mind will walk away with an understanding, just as all these members here do, that this bond is unbreakable," McCarthy said. 

The Democratic Majority for Israel, a pro-Israel group, said in a statement that "there is simply no excuse for any country, including Israel, to prevent travel by elected officials of the United States," despite the group's disagreements with Omar and Tlaib. 

 

The Democratic lawmakers were scheduled to arrive on Sunday on a trip organized by the non-profit organization Miftah, which is led by a Palestinian lawmaker and peace negotiator. 

The congresswomen have been outspoken in their criticism of Israel and US-Israel policy. Omar has made comments widely denounced as anti-Semitic, including by members of her own party. 
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