Israel to block visit by Democratic Reps. Tlaib and Omar

Israel to block visit by Democratic Reps. Tlaib and Omar

In a highly unusual move, coming a week after a visit of several dozen U.S. lawmakers, the Israeli Government has decided not to allow two Democratic members of Congress to enter the country this weekend, noting the anti-Israel statements of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Not long before the news was official, President Donald Trump tweeted his support.

"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit," the President wrote on Twitter. "They hate Israel and all Jewish people."

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While Mr. Trump labeled the two Democrats a 'disgrace,' their colleagues in Congress said the Israeli move was a mistake by the Netanyahu government.

"Nobody has to agree with their opinions, but it will inevitably harm U.S.-Israel relations if members of Congress are banned from the country," said Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI).

"This is a craven, partisan, racist weaponization of the US-Israel relationship that will do lasting damage," said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).

"Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

"Not allowing Reps Omar and Talib to enter Israel would be a grave mistake," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). "Cooler heads must prevail."

"Banning members of Congress from visiting Israel, where they can see facts on the ground with their own eyes, is counterproductive and plays into President Trump’s goal of politicizing support for Israel," said Halie Soifer, a top official with the Jewish Democratic Council of America.

"First he tells Congresswoman Tlaib to "go back" to "her" country, and then he tells that country not to let her in," said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), as Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress.