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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

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Progressive legal advocacy group spinning off from sponsor

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A leading progressive legal advocacy group is spinning off from the sprawling dark money network that seeded it, the group tells Axios.

Why it matters: Demand Justice's decision to separate from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a "fiscal sponsor" for scores of largely left-wing organizations, will provide the public with its first detailed look behind the curtain of the influential progressive nonprofit.

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