UPDATE, 11:20 a.m. EST: The Israeli government has announced that Tlaib and Omar will be prohibited from visiting Israel this weekend, The Washington Post reported.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) planned to visit Israel and Palestinian territories this weekend, but the Israeli government has blocked them from entering the country because they support the anti-Israel boycott movement, the Washington Post reported.
Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank, and Omar were planning to visit Israel on a trip organized by MIFTAH, a nonprofit organization with the goal of establishing a “sovereign, independent, democratic, tolerant and inclusive Palestinian state.”
At issue is an Israeli law that denies entry visas to foreigners who support any form of boycott against Israel and its settlements in the West Bank.
The decision to block the congresswomen marks a sudden change from comments made last month by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who said all U.S. lawmakers would be allowed in the country “out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America.”
Congressional Democrats were aware of the situation and privately pressed Israeli officials to allow the trip to go forward. That effort was reportedly being led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a pro-Israel Democrat who has a close and longstanding relationship with the country.
Tlaib and Omar planned to visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Ramallah during the private trip, which does not include any scheduled official meetings.
Last weekend, President Donald Trump reportedly told advisers that he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should block the visit. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called that report “fake news,” saying, “The Israeli government can do what they want.”
However, Trump made his view on the situation clear in a Thursday morning tweet
“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,” President Trump wrote. “Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution in July condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that Tlaib and Omar both support.
Omar, in particular, has been criticized for anti-Semitic statements, dating back to a 2012 tweet in which she wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”