Updated 4:12 p.m. with Attorney General Dana Nessel’s comments
The Israeli government announced Thursday it would not allow U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to visit the country for a planned trip this month, after President Donald Trump publicly lobbied for them to be barred.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that the decision was due to Tlaib and Omar’s support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that urges companies and nations to distance themselves from Israel in protest of their treatment of Palestinians.
Before the announcement Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted, “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!”
The move contradicts Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer’s July comments in which he said Israel would allow the trip, declaring, “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.” Both Tlaib and Omar have long been outspoken critics of the Israeli government and its occupation of the West Bank.
Tlaib did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in a statement, fellow freshman U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) voiced his support for the two and outrage at the decision.
“This is a completely misguided decision that reeks of political motivation. Congresswoman Tlaib, whose family lives in the West Bank, and Congresswoman Omar, who is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, deserve to be treated with the dignity and respect that any other Member of Congress would receive,” Levin said in a statement.
“This decision pulls at the seams of our two countries’ important relationship. … The Israeli government should reject the bigoted, wedge-driving political tactics of President Trump, who recently said that both congresswomen should ‘go back’ to their countries, and grant Reps. Tlaib and Omar entry into the country to do their jobs.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel weighed in Thursday as well, saying “I am extremely disappointed that the Israeli government has adopted the bigoted political tactics of Donald Trump by barring two duly elected members of the U.S. Congress from entering the country. As both a Jew and personal friend of Rep Tlaib, I am outraged that she continues to face vile attacks simply for who she is and for doing her job… While I am a state official without decision-making authority on this, I stand in solidarity with Rep Tlaib and the thousands of Michiganders who chose her to represent them in Congress.”*