Israel has decided to deny Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib entry to the country for an upcoming trip, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely confirmed to local radio on Thursday. Reuters first reported the news.
“We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel,” Hotovely said. “In principle this is a very justified decision.”
The news broke not long after President Donald Trump urged Prime Minister Netanyahu on Twitter to bar the pair’s entry, claiming they were a “disgrace” who hate “all Jewish people.”
The president tweeted that threat just one hour after White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham insisted Trump had not been trying to influence Netanyahu’s decision on whether or not to allow Omar and Tlaib into the country. That came following conflicting reports that the Israeli government was debating whether to bar the pair ahead of a scheduled visit to Israel and the West Bank beginning this weekend.
Trump’s recycled smear that Omar and Tlaib are anti-Semitic is the latest salvo in his ongoing racist attacks on the lawmakers and the rest of the progressive Democratic “Squad,” which have drawn muted and decidedly half-hearted condemnation from fellow Republicans. The president, meanwhile, is himself adored by actual anti-Semites, and has a long, well-documented history of using anti-Semitic tropes for his own personal benefit.
The decision to bar Omar and Tlaib—and Trump’s transparent effort to force them to do so—stands in stark contrast to Israel’s self-serving mantra of being the “only democracy in the Middle East,” and will likely only further draw more attention the very issues Reps Omar and Tlaib have spoken out about.