JERUSALEM (dpa-AFX) - Israel barred two Democratic Muslim women members of the U.S. House of Representatives from visiting the country apparently under pressure from the leader of its biggest ally.
Reps Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who are known critics of Israel and President Donald Trump, had scheduled to visit Jerusalem and Palestinian cities of Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah this weekend.
The lawmakers' trip was canceled after Israel announced they would not be allowed to enter the country, citing their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates the boycott of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the travel itinerary provided by Omar and Tlaib prove that the 'sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel.'
The lady Representatives called Israel blocking their entry 'chilling' and 'a sign of weakness'.
Members of the U.S. Congress routinely visit Israel and the Palestinian territories, but Omar and Tlaib had drawn fire from Trump, who called them 'the face of the Democrat Party', which, according to him, hate Israel.
The Israeli government's decision to bar Omar and Tlaib came in line with Trump's call on Twitter earlier in the day.
He said it would show great weakness if Israel allowed the first-term Democrats to visit the country. 'They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds,' in the opinion of Trump. 'Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace, he tweeted.
The move evoked sharp criticism, including from pro-Israel top Democratic lawmakers, presidential candidates and influential pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
Elizabeth Warren called it 'a shameful, unprecedented move,' and urged Israel's government to allow Ilhan and Tlaib entry. 'Israel doesn't advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views,' she said on Twitter.
Bernie Sanders said he absolutely rejects Trump's disgusting efforts to exploit fear of anti-Semitism to attack his colleagues.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Netanyahu's discriminatory decision to ban members of Congress from Israel harms international diplomacy.
Rep. Jim McGovern said that Netanyahu's decision is unacceptable and wrong. 'It insults not just my colleagues, but the entire Congress of the United States'.
Meanwhile, One America News reported that Israel's interior minister approved Rashida Tlaib's petition to enter Israel on 'humanitarian grounds' to visit her grandmother in the West Bank.
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