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.

The state of play: Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer had previously said Israel would allow Tlaib and Omar to enter, but Netanyahu — a staunch Trump ally who is facing an election in the fall — is now reconsidering as a result of pressure from the president.

  • According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu is trying to find a solution that will address the pressure from the White House but will not totally bar Omar and Tlaib.
  • As of 5 a.m. EDT, no decision had been made. One of the possibilities floated would be allowing the congresswomen to enter Israel but limiting their movements only to the Palestinian Authority.
  • Another option is to allow them in on humanitarian grounds. An Israeli official told me that if Tlaib filed a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the Israeli government will consider it favorably.

Go deeper: Behind the scenes of Netanyahu's shifting position

Go deeper

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

Decision to bar Omar and Tlaib widens rift between Israel and Democrats

Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar the entry of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) has threatened to further widen the rift between the Israeli government and the Democratic Party, which was only recently beginning to heal.

Why it matters: Netanyahu had a very tense relationship with President Obama as a result of the Iran nuclear deal. In the last 2 years, both the Israeli government and Democratic leaders tried to repair the relationship in order to keep support for Israel bipartisan. Those efforts actually bore fruit, but today’s decision has threatened to wipe out that progress.

Go deeperArrowAug 15, 2019

Tlaib says she won't visit Israel despite permission to visit family

Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said Friday that she will not enter Israel due to the "oppressive conditions" placed upon her visit, despite the Israeli government's permission to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the occupied West Bank, including her 90-year-old grandmother.

The big picture: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed course yesterday after pressure from President Trump and barred Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from a planned visit to Israel and the West Bank, saying the trip was meant "to strengthen the boycott and delegitimize Israel." In a letter requesting the visit to her family, Tlaib said she would "respect [her] restrictions" and would not "promote boycotts against Israel."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 16, 2019