President Donald Trump has told his advisers that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bar Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country due to their support for the boycott movement, according to Axios. Citing three sources, Axios says Trump’s views have reached “the top level of the Israeli government,” but the White House denied it. “The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
In 2017, Israel passed a law that requires the Interior Ministry to block the entry of foreigners who support boycotting the country as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The law “has only been used sporadically since being legislated,” notes the Jerusalem Post. Trump, though, apparently thinks Israel should apply this law in the case of the two lawmakers because if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them.”
As soon as Omar and Tlaib said they would be visiting Israel in August, some Israeli politicians began debating whether the two should be denied entry. Haaretz reported last month that considering that the pair are elected officials, the decision was left to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Later, though, officials said Netanyahu was going to ask for the opinion of the National Security Council. Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, said last month the two lawmakers would be allowed into the country. “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,” he said.
Trump has been pushing the view of Israel barring the two Democratic lawmakers shortly after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan resolution that condemns the movement to boycott Israel in a 398-to-17 vote. Tlaib and Omar voted against the measure.
Asked about the report at a news conference , House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “I do not know that the president was unhappy” but insisted he was glad Israel had agreed to let Tlaib and Omar enter the country. “I feel very secure in this—that anyone who comes with open ears, open eyes and an open mind will walk away with understanding,” he said.