Jul 19, 2019

Israel to allow Reps. Omar and Tlaib to enter the country

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Photo: Getty Images

Israel will allow Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to enter the country on an upcoming trip, regardless of their support for the BDS movement, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said in a statement.

Why it matters: Omar and Tlaib were two of the targets of recent racist public attacks from President Trump. Last weekend, he called for them to "go back" to the countries they came from — despite the fact that Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen and Tlaib was born in the U.S. Trump included in his attacks against the congresswomen accusations that they were anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

  • Catch up quick: Omar and Tlaib are advocates for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-led boycott which says that it is working to apply economic, moral and political pressure on Israel until it ends its occupation of Palestinian territories, recognizes Palestinian citizens of Israel as equal and allows Palestinian refugees to return.

Driving the news: In the days since the congresswomen announced their planned visit to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government had to decide whether to let them into the country.

  • It's due to a relatively new Israeli law that bars entry to Israel for foreign nationals who publicly support the BDS movement.
  • Omar and Tlaib have both stated they they support BDS.
  • Preventing a member of Congress from entry would have been unprecedented in the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Dermer's statement was authorized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel."
— Ron Dermer

Go deeper

Scoop: Trump tells advisers Israel should bar entry to Reps. Omar and Tlaib

Reps. Rashida Tlaib (L) and Ilhan Omar. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

President Trump has told advisers he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use Israel's anti-boycott law to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering Israel, according to 3 sources familiar with the situation.

What he's saying: Trump's private views have reached the top level of the Israeli government. But Trump denies, through White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, ever giving any kind of directive to the Israelis. "The Israeli government can do what they want. It's fake news," Grisham said on Saturday.

Go deeperArrowAug 10, 2019

Israel bars Reps. Omar and Tlaib from entering after pressure from Trump

Reps. Ilhan Omar (L) and Rashida Tlaib. Photos: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Following pressure from President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backtracked on his decision to allow Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to enter the country and is now barring the congresswomen over their support for the BDS movement.

The latest: Netanyahu issued a statement stressing that Omar and Tlaib were planning a trip whose "sole purpose is to strengthen the boycott and delegitimize Israel." Netanyahu said the congresswomen designated their trip as a visit to Palestine and not to Israel, and they did not ask to meet any Israeli official or member of the opposition. "Omar and Tlaib’s visit plan showed they only wanted to harm Israel," Netanyahu said.  

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 15, 2019

Trump encourages Israel to ban Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

President Trump tweeted Thursday that it would show "great weakness" if Israel were to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to enter the country during an upcoming congressional delegation visit on Friday.

"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!"

Why it matters: As Axios' Jonathan Swan and I previously reported, Trump has privately been telling advisers that he thinks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use an anti-boycott law to bar the two freshman congresswomen over their support for the BDS movement. In response to our story, the White House said that Trump didn’t pressure Israel in any way and that Israel can do whatever it wants.

Go deeperArrowAug 15, 2019