In a stunning announcement by Israel … following a tweet from President Trump … Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) have been banned from entering Israel, and thus, unable to enter Palestine.

Trump has had a longstanding animus toward Omar and Tlaib, who along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) were told to “go back” to their counties by Trump. Of the four, all but Omar are American born. Omar was born in Somalia and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Early Thursday morning (Aug. 15) Trump took to Twitter to tweet further vitriol towards Omar and Tlaib, who are the only Muslim women serving in Congress.

Trump, seemingly unprovoked, tweeted, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib (sic) 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!” He followed up with a tweet a few hours later saying, “Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!”

Omar said the move and the president’s tweet reek of xenophobia and racism.

“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,” said Omar in a statement. “Denying entry into Israel not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also to enter the Palestinian territories. Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”

Omar said the ban directly impacts her ability to conduct oversight as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is an affront to democracy.  

“As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world,” said Omar. “The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.”

Tlaib delivered her response via Twitter, posting a photo of her grandmother, who lives in who lives in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta.

“This woman right here is my sity (grandmother). She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. I am who I am because of her,” wrote Tlaib. “The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness (because) the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.”

The top lawmaker in the House came out forcefully in defense of the two congresswomen.

“Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement. “The President's statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.”

Omar and Tlaib were scheduled to visit Israel and Palestine Aug. 18 – Aug. 22, with Tlaib staying until the Aug. 24 to visit with her grandmother.

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