- Title: Israel bars visit by U.S. Democratic lawmakers
- Date: 15th August 2019
- Summary: WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES (FILE - JANUARY 3, 2019) (REUTERS) DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE OF MICHIGAN RASHIDA TLAIB AND DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE OF MINNESOTA ILHAN OMAR OUTSIDE OF CAPITOL WITH TLAIB'S MOTHER IN A WHEEL CHAIR OUTSIDE OF CONGRESS TLAIB WITH GROUP ON CAPITOL STEPS, SMILING AND WAVING TO CROWD
- Embargoed: 29th August 2019 15:57
- Location: INTERNET / MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA AND WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES
- Reuters ID: LVA002ASBXW7B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Israel will bar a visit by two of its sharpest critics in the U.S. Congress, Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who planned to tour the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the country's deputy foreign minister said on Thursday (August 15).
"The decision has been made, the decision is not to allow them to enter," Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel's Reshet Bet Radio.
U.S. President Donald Trump had earlier urged Israel on Thursday not to allow the visit by Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and members of the Democratic Partyâ€™s progressive wing.
The pair have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. Under Israeli law, backers of the BDS movement can be denied entry to Israel.
Trump has vented in recent months against Omar, Tlaib and two other Democratic congresswomen of colour, accusing them of hostility to Israel in what has widely been seen as a drumming up of Republican votes for his 2020 reelection bid.
"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit," he tweeted on Thursday. "They are a disgrace!"
No date had been formally announced for the congresswomen's trip, but sources familiar with the planned visit said it could begin at the weekend.
Israel's ambassador in the United States, Ron Dermer, said last month Tlaib and Omar would be let in, out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
Political commentators said a reversal of Israel's original intention to approve the legislators' entry likely stemmed from a desire to mirror Trump's hard line against them.
Tlaib, 43, who was born in the United States, draws her roots to the Palestinian village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa in the West Bank. Her grandmother and extended family live in the village.
Omar, who immigrated to the United States from Somalia as a child, represents Minnesota's fifth congressional district.
In February, Omar, 37, apologised after Democratic leaders condemned remarks she made about the pro-Israel lobby in the United States as using anti-Semitic stereotypes.
(Production: Kristin Neubauer)
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