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.