US President Donald Trump has reportedly told his advisers that he thinks Israel should ban Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Micigan) from entering the country because they support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Trump said that if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them,” according to a source with direct knowledge, Israel’s Channel 13 reported.
According to the Israeli media outlet, which published its story over the weekend, Trump told advisers he believes Israel should enforce its 2017 law requiring the Interior Ministry to block foreign nationals from entering Israel if they have supported boycotting the Jewish state, a sentiment that reached the top level of the Israeli government.
According to the dry law in Israel that has been on the books for some two years, Omar – whose legislation implicitly calls for the boycott of Israel – could be denied entry. This law has only been used sporadically since being legislated.
However, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, denied this report in a statement quotes by Axios: “The Israeli government can do what they want,” she said on Saturday. “It’s fake news.”
When Tlaib and Omar first announced that they would be visiting the Jewish state in August, Israeli politicians began mumbling about whether the two freshmen congresspeople would be permitted entry. But Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said last month that, “Out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”
Trump’s reported reaction comes only days after the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved House Resolution 246, sponsored by Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-Illinois-10), opposing BDS, "including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel."
Some 350 legislators cosponsored the resolution, 175 from each party. Ultimately, 398 members supported the resolution, with 17 voting against it, 16 of them from the Democrats – including Tlaib and Omar.
Around the same time, Omar put forth a “pro-boycott” resolution in Congress “affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
While the resolution does not mention the acronym BDS, she told the news site Al-Monitor, “We are introducing a resolution… to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting… It is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”
Omar and Tlaib are scheduled to arrive in Israel on August 18, though the date is still subject to change. Either way, their trip is not expected to overlap with two much larger delegations of US representatives that are currently in the country, organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
AIEF, during the summer Congressional recess during non-election years, brings freshmen Democrats and Republicans on two different trips. The trip for the Democrats began August 5 and ends August 11, while the one for the Republicans started August 9 and will conclude on the 15.