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Tlaib (L) and Omar. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Israel is preparing for the possibility that Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who are expected to arrive in the country on Friday, will want to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem together with representatives of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli officials tell me.

The big picture: Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, announced several weeks ago that out of respect for the U.S. Congress, Reps. Omar and Tlaib would be allowed to enter Israel despite their support for the BDS movement to boycott Israel. As Axios reported on Saturday, President Trump was disappointed in the decision to allow them to enter the country.

Among the scenarios Israeli officials are now preparing for is a visit to the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif.

  • It's the most important holy site for Jews and third-most important for Muslims around the world. It is one of the most intensely contested sites in the Middle East, with Israel and the Palestinians both claiming sovereignty over it.

Last week, Israel's deputy national security adviser, Reuven Azar, held a classified interagency meeting to prepare for the congresswomen's visit.

  • The meeting was designated as highly sensitive due to the fact it took place while 41 House Democrats visited Israel.
  • Israeli officials briefed on the meeting said Azar asked the participants to keep the fact that the meeting had even taken place a secret.
  • When he concluded the meeting, Azar said “there is high probability” that Omar and Tlaib would want to visit the Temple Mount due to the fact both congresswomen are Muslim.
  • Azar instructed the Israeli police, who control access to the holy site, to ensure no Palestinian officials joined Omar and Tlaib on the visit.

According to Israeli officials, Azar stressed that “the preferred goal is that the congresswomen won’t come to Israel at all” — and cancel the visit for their own reasons.

  • He added that if they do arrive in Israel, the goal is to “minimize as much as possible the damage to Israel in the U.S. political system and public opinion."
  • All representatives of all government agencies present at the meeting agreed that Omar and Tlaib should be allowed in the country in order to avoid harm to the U.S.-Israel relationship, the sources said.

But, but, but: That doesn’t apply to Omar and Tlaib’s staffers or other delegation members.

  • Azar said Israel would assess the members of the delegation and decide whether to allow them in on a case-by-case basis, depending on their support of the BDS movement.
  • Azar instructed the Israeli Foreign Ministry to seek from the U.S. Embassy an advance list of delegation members in order to vet them in advance and notify those who would not be allowed to enter Israel.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the timing of the congresswomen's arrival.

Go deeper

John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, wins unconditional release

John Hinckley Jr. sitting on the back seat of a car in 1981. Photo: Bettmann / Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday approved the unconditional release of John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate former President Reagan in 1981.

State of play: U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington ruled that Hinckley can be freed from all court supervision in 2022 if he remains mentally stable and continues to follow rules that were imposed on him after he was released from a Washington mental health facility in 2016 to live in Virginia, AP reports.

Rep. Karen Bass launches run for Los Angeles mayor

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) on Monday launched her bid for mayor of Los Angeles.

Why it matters: Bass is a high-profile member of Congress. The former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, she was considered as a potential running mate to President Joe Biden and was a lead negotiator in the recently-ended talks on police reform. Should Bass win the mayoral election, she would become the first female mayor in L.A. history.

Biden administration takes steps to "fortify" DACA

People attend a protest supporting DACA in New York, Aug. 17. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday took additional steps to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program despite ongoing legal challenges to the program.

Driving the news: The Department of Homeland Security unveiled a proposed rule designed "to preserve and fortify" DACA, which offers protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The rule is set to formally publish on Tuesday and would give the public two months to submit comments in favor of or against the Obama-era policy.

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