In what’s being touted by many as an unusual move, Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced on Thursday that Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar would be denied entry into Israel for an upcoming planned trip the two were set to take.
The announcement came approximately one hour after President Donald Trump tweeted that it would be a sign of “great weakness” if Israel allowed the two freshmen lawmakers — who happen to be Muslim Americans — into their country.
The backlash from the decision — one that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on and defended shortly after — was fierce and quick. Several Democrats came out in defense of Tlaib and Omar and condemned the controversial decision, according to The Hill.
One of those was 2020 Democratic hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who argued that Israel wasn’t being much of a U.S. ally and that it “doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy” by barring the two women entry into the country, The Hill reported.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also weighed in with a tweet which explained that banning the lawmakers from visiting “is a sign of enormous disrespect” before calling on Israel to reverse their decision.
Rep. David Cicilline, who happens to be Jewish, called the Israeli government’s decision a “grave mistake.”
“Democracy is about accepting that others don’t always share your views and respecting the right to disagree,” Cicilline added.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, who is the president of J Street — a liberal pro-Israel group — also condemned the decision as “dangerous, unacceptable and wrong” and slammed both Trump and Netanyahu for making it happen.
“As sitting Members of Congress representing hundreds of thousands of Americans in their districts, Reps. Omar and Tlaib have the same right as every one of their colleagues to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory,” Ben-Ami said.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 15, 2019
Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a Palestinian American lawmaker who left the Republican party earlier this year after calling for impeachment proceedings against the president, called on Israel to “stand up” to Trump and allow the two women entry. He also explained that too much division already exists and that the move could potentially harm U.S. relations with Israel.
The lawmakers planned on visiting Israel Sunday, which they called a fact-finding trip and would involve stopping in Palestinian-controlled areas. Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and Omar came to the United States as a Somalian refugee.
The two are also part of the politically unpopular boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to pressure Israel on human rights issues. A vast majority of House Democrats opposed the movement and last month officially condemned it in a nonbinding resolution that gained support from all but 17 Democrats, according to The Hill.