In justifying a decision to bar U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday he believed that the representatives intended to harm the country during a visit the two had planned.
Netanyahu reportedly decided to bar the representatives from visiting the nation following pressure from President Trump, who was unhappy that Netanyahu had planned to allow the congresswomen into the country, per Axios.
Netanyahu reportedly had planned to allow the representatives to enter the country despite their political stances because of his respect for the U.S. Congress, according to Axios. As Axios noted, the decision to bar Omar and Tlaib from Israel could spell trouble for the Democratic Party and future relations between the United States and Israel.
In claiming that Omar and Tlaib, who are both Muslim, intended to bring harm to Israel, Netanyahu claimed that the congresswomen were there to delegitimize Israel and to weaken the state. He said that the representatives had scheduled the visit as a trip to Palestine and had not scheduled any meetings with Israeli officials during their planned visit, which was scheduled for Friday.
According to Axios, Netanyahu forbade the American lawmakers from entering the country over their support of the BDS movement.
Per a report from Vox, BDS movements are ones that support legislation that would force Israel to change its controversial treatment of Palestine through external pressures. These often taken the form of a refusal to buy Israeli goods, a refusal to collaborate with Israeli academics, and the refusal to do any business with Israeli companies. While supporters of BDS bills say that they favor them based on successful pressure applied to the South African government during apartheid in the ’90s, critics of the legislation label the movements anti-Semitic, per Vox.
In a statement, Netanyahu said the congresswomen designated their trip as a visit to Palestine and not to Israel, and did not ask to meet any Israeli official or member of opposition.
"Omar and Tlaib’s visit plan showed they only wanted to harm Israel." https://t.co/9CJkgGsWbz
— Axios (@axios) August 15, 2019
According to Vox, anti-BDS advocates and other supporters of the Israeli government have had success, especially at the state level, in blocking BDS legislation and even passing legislation that makes it difficult for BDS advocates to advance their goals.
Axios had previously reported that the Israeli government feared that Omar and Tlaib would attempt to visit Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the world’s most important holy site for Jewish people and an important holy site for Muslim people, with Palestinian officials.
Meanwhile, the president on Thursday took to Twitter on Thursday to call Omar and Tlaib a “disgrace” and said that allowing the representatives into the country was the wrong decision. The president said that he believed the two women hated Jewish people and Israel.