Israel backtracks, now considering barring Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar

In 2017 the Knesset passed an anti-BDS law that blocks foreign BDS activists from gaining entry to Israel. The law, however, has only been implemented sporadically.

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August 15, 2019 10:56
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing the possibility of blocking an expected visit in the coming days by two pro-BDS congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), diplomatic officials said on Thursday.

According to the officials, Netanyahu met on Wednesday with Interior Minister Aryeh 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 issue.

“The possibility exists that Israel will not allow the visit in its current form,” the officials said. “Professional and legal teams from the government minister are continuing to study the materials. According to the law, the authority to do so is given to the interior minister.”

In 2017 the Knesset passed an anti-BDS law that blocks foreign BDS activists from gaining entry to Israel. The law, however, has only been implemented sporadically.

If a decision is made to block their entry, it would be a reversal of what Ambassador Ron Dermer said, just a month ago. “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,” he said.

Over the weekend Channel 13 reported that US President Donald Trump – who has waged a very public Twitter campaign against the congresswoman in an apparent attempt to cast their hard-left views as the face Democratic Party – was unhappy at Israel's original decision not to bar them.

The Washington Post on Thursday reported that Israel informed congressional leaders on Wednesday that an announcement formally barring them from visiting would be made on Thursday. Such a move, however, is likely to lead to an outcry among Democrats and others who will argue that this sends exactly the wrong message about Israel's democracy.

Both House Majority leader Steny Hoyer, who led 41 Democratic congressmen to Israel last week, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is currently here with 31 Republicans, have said that Israel should allow in the two congresswomen.


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